If you are a college student, you are probably looking forward to a summer break that includes visiting family, hanging out with friends, doing a little traveling and maybe hitting the beach for a summer tan.
But, now is the time to prepare for your next phase in life…a job after graduation. Summer break is the perfect opportunity to gain important professional skills, and perhaps put some money in the bank.
10Tips for Utilizing Summer Break to Find a Career:
- Don’t delay. To have the best chance at getting the job you want, start early and get on the company’s radar screen. Reach out and ask for a 10 minute interview, or ask when the company will be hiring and be sure to get your resume in at the proper time. Be the “squeaky wheel,” without stepping over the line and becoming an annoyance.
- Use your school’s Career Services department. They are specialists and trained to offer a wealth of information and guidance. Make an appointment in advance, and don’t wait until the last week of finals to speak with them.
- Don’t shy away from unpaid internships. Though a paid internship is preferable depending on your financial obligations, accepting a position for the knowledge demonstrates your desire to learn.
- Seek out a mentor. Reach out to a person you admire and ask if he or she would be willing to spend an hour with you, providing insight and guidance. That hour could grow into a mentorship and your new mentor could potentially connect you with others in your desired field of work.
- Network within your own family circle. Your family is bound to have some professional connections with a high interest in a bright, young college student, willing to work hard.
- Don’t be afraid to aim high. Contact the company that may offer you a job or an internship; one that will expose you to skills relevant to your degree. It doesn’t matter if you find yourself in the basement of the company sorting mail, your foot is in the door and you will have the opportunity to make friends and influence the movers and shakers in the company.
- Don’t get discouraged. If you can’t find a job in your future career field, look for alternate opportunities. You will still gain valuable, real-world experience along with networking connections in virtually any job you accept. For example, being a server in a restaurant is one of the hardest and best jobs a college student can experience. With all of the challenges associated with serving food, such as unfriendly customers who don’t know how to properly tip, screaming babies, messy toddlers, and people sending back their food because they changed their mind after you put in the order, it’s a good lesson in keeping your composure and practicing your diplomatic social skills. You will learn the nuts and bolts of a service industry and have a great opportunity to hone your people skills.
- Take your job seriously. Whether it’s collaborating on an important project or walking through the halls to make copies on the copier, everything counts. Dress with pride, show up on time, stay late and do what is asked. As a matter of fact, do more than is expected. Learn as much as you can about your job and also what others are doing in the company.
- Don’t quit prematurely. Stay with the job most of the summer. It won’t be worth mentioning to a future employer if you only lasted a couple of weeks and you quit, or were asked to leave.
- Reward yourself. Schedule your last day of work with enough time to enjoy a couple more weeks of free time before you start back to college.
Learning to balance your time during the summer with work, personal development and planning for the future will serve you well as you continue on towards reaching your educational, career and life goals. But, don’t forget to add some FUN into your summer – you deserve it!