Ah, summer. For some students that means three months away from the stress of preparing for exams, managing projects and writing papers. For others it means taking more classes, working an internship or getting a part-time job.
No matter what your plans are, don’t let the summer slip by without gaining some insight or experiences that can benefit your unique career path. Here are 10 things you can do to fill your downtime that can enhance your employability.
Volunteering is an excellent way to use the skills you possess to help a worthwhile charity or a startup that cannot currently afford to hire new staff. That selfless attitude is not only viewed favorably by employers, but it is also an excellent point of discussion to use in a future job interview.
Look for volunteer opportunities with the Volunteer Resource Center.
Set up informational interviews
Informational interviews can provide deeper insight into a particular field and build your network, which can bring more opportunities your way. This is an effective research tool that can help answer questions you might have about what it takes to work in certain industries and the proper steps to get into a career.
Shadowing an experienced professional can be a great way to get a feel for different companies and industries and to pick up some extra business experience and self-knowledge. Whether you’re someone who is uncertain of the career you want to have or even someone who has it all figured out, job shadowing will allow you to see exactly what your “dream job” may entail.
Learn a new skill
Look through job descriptions that interest you to see what types of skills are required for the position. If there is a program you don’t know or want to learn more about, find an online course that can help you master them.
CU Boulder students have access to Lynda.com which offers free courses in almost every subject. Whether you want to learn more about Microsoft Excel, Photoshop, Dreamweaver or Google Analytics, Lynda.com has a course for you.
Make a budget
Whether you take out student loans, work or earn an allowance from your parents, understanding your expenses and setting a budget can help you better prepare for life after college. Set a spending limit each month so you can cover all your expenses including food, rent, transportation, entertainment and school supplies. Summer is a great time to talk about your financial situation with your parents or legal guardian.
It’s no secret that exercise is an essential part of living, but why would it benefit your career prep? Studies show regular exercise can stimulate brain cell development, improve memory retention, increase focus and concentration, as well as relieve stress. It can also boost your mental health if you are prone to anxiety or depression.
Start a personal project
Developing something as simple as a blog or as big as your own startup company can add a competitive edge to your job search after college. Not only does it demonstrate self-motivation and discipline but also creativity and flexibility. And, who knows, it could turn into a successful career.
Study for grad school tests
If you’re planning on going to graduate school, use your downtime this summer to get a head start on 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’re unhappy with your score.
The Testing Services offers the GMAT, GRE and LSAT as early as September.
Clean up your social media
Employers often use social media to screen candidates for jobs and internships. Scan through all your profiles. Untag or remove images and posts that are inappropriate, offensive or distasteful. Google yourself to see what pops up and take anything down that you think would hinder your job search.
Listen to podcasts
Podcasts are a great way to learn about personal and professional development from experts in every field. Whether you’re interested in news, business, art, politics, self-help, sports or technology, there's a podcast for you. Replace your Spotify playlist with any of these recommended podcasts and listen while you exercise or have some free time.
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- Brainwaves: A weekly podcast produced at CU Boulder that explores the big ideas and groundbreaking research conducted at CU.
- College Life Podcast: This podcast brings students information and stories related to everything about college life. They interview current college students, recent graduates and people who work at colleges to discuss challenges, successes and opportunities for you to make the most of your time in college.
- How I Built This: NPR’s Guy Raz interviews some of the world’s best-known companies including Wayfair, Dell Computers, LinkedIn and more. How I Built This shares the narrative journeys from innovators, entrepreneurs and idealists and the movements they’ve built.
- Tiny Leaps, Big Changes: These 15–30 minutes podcasts consist of self-help, wellness, motivation and inspiration about developing day-to-day habits to get the most out of life.
- TED Talks Daily: Listen to thought-provoking ideas on every subject imaginable, from artificial intelligence to zoology and everything in between. This collection consists of TED and TEDx conference discussions from around the globe.
- The College Info Geek Podcast: Study Tips & Advice for Students: Learn strategies and tactics that can help you build a personal brand that will make you insanely attractive to employers. They will also give you tips on how to study better, pay off student loans quickly and start making money.
- Stuff You Should Know: One of the most popular podcasts gives a unique dose of education and entertainment. You never know what Josh and Chuck are going to discuss; it could be anything from the story of Rosa Parks to how sushi is made.