Published: May 12, 2022

studyingWhether you’re taking Summer Session classes or enjoying a well-deserved break, you might have some downtime to fill over the next three months. Here are some things you can do this summer to make progress on your career goals.

1. Learn new skills

Learning new things and developing professional skills can give you an edge over other candidates. While many of the skills you’ll need are built into your courses, there are also ways to develop skills outside the classroom. 

To get started, check out Skills for Success through Career Services. This self-paced program helps you identify the skills you have, learn about the skills you’ll need to develop and find opportunities to build skills. You’ll also learn how to talk about your skills at every stage of your job search. 

Students also have free access to LinkedIn Learning. There are hundreds of courses for learning both technical skills (HTML, data analytics, project management) and foundational skills (communication, teamwork, problem solving, leadership).

2. Sharpen your professional toolkit

Summer is a great time to work on application materials and prepare in advance for your internship or job search.

You can also use our free online career tools. Upload your resume to VMock to get instant feedback on your resume, or use the VMock Aspire tool to optimize your LinkedIn profile. Use Interview Prep to practice answering interview questions and build your confidence.

3. Gain professional experience

There are learning opportunities over the summer that can help you gain professional experience for your resume and online profiles. Check out Buff Works projects, where you can apply your education and put your skills and knowledge to work in real-world projects. Career Services creates teams of students from across campus and pairs them with companies to complete projects. Learn more about summer 2022 Buff Works projects

4. Volunteer

One of the best ways to learn about yourself, develop skills and give back to others is through volunteering. Volunteer roles can vary—you may find yourself working with animals, writing grants or collecting data for organizations. Whatever you do, you’ll gain experience that can add depth to your resume and online profiles. Your volunteer experience may also give you great stories to share during interviews to demonstrate your strengths and skills.

There are plenty of opportunities to match your interests and fit your schedule. If you’re in the Boulder area over the summer, search the CUServes database for available service opportunities.

5. Connect with others

Use time over the summer to build your professional network. Start by thinking about the connections you may already have. Do you have friends who are recent graduates? People you’ve volunteered with? Former co-workers or campus organization members? Stay connected with them on LinkedIn to maintain your professional relationship. To make new connections, join the large network of CU Boulder alumni on the Forever Buffs Network

6. Pursue a passion project

Take an innovation mindset to your summer and pursue something you’re passionate about. Maybe you have an idea for a product that could improve our lives. Or perhaps you’ve been considering opening an online store. Whatever it is, try out your idea and see if it works. Watch TED Talks, check out LinkedIn Learning or read books to develop your entrepreneurial mindset. The experience and knowledge you gain from your passion project can help guide your career path.

7. Study for grad school tests

If you’re planning to attend graduate school, use your downtime this summer to start studying for exams. Taking your entrance exams early in the semester can give you plenty of time to submit applications or retake the exam before deadlines if you want to improve your score.

8. Take care of yourself

While it can feel like you should be productive and use every second of summer to advance yourself, remember to focus on self-care—especially when many of us may be feeling exhausted at the end of this academic year. Professional development comes second to your mental and physical well-being. Find balance by getting seven to nine hours of sleep, eating regular meals, finding time for physical activity and staying in touch with friends and family. For more tips on this, visit the Health and Wellness Services website.