5 Ways To Make The Most Of This Summer

In the next few months, summer will be making an appearance (unless this winter is actually eternal) and the spring semester will be coming to an end (that we can be sure of). Some students will continue courses at their respective University, while other students will happily elect to wait until Fall Semester rolls around again to continue earning credits.

Both choices have their pros and cons. Taking summer courses means catching up or getting ahead in your degrees, but sacrificing a handful of hours a week to complete school work. Skipping the summer semester means enjoying your sunny days carefree, but falling out of routine and the ready-to-learn mindset.

Facilitating opportunities for professional development during semester breaks can benefit you, primarily if you don't plan on enrolling in summer classes. Take advantage of these resume-building skills and career-related experiences:

1. Find an internship.

Internships are great because they enhance your knowledge and provide experience in a particular field. If it's paid, that's even more of a reason to find a summer internship. If it's not paid, that's perfectly fine as well. You can still get a well-crafted recommendation letter from supervisors, which will pay off when you go to apply for jobs after graduation. If you build a strong foundation with your internship, the opportunity could lead to a job offer. Research internships that align with your major and get a taste of what the job tasks are. You might find that you don't like the line of work you were planning on pursuing. Better to know now rather than later.

2. Attend networking events.

Most communities offer networking opportunities, career fairs, and conferences. Don't be afraid to attend, and remember you don't have to go alone. You will meet face to face with business owners and recruiters. Dress to impress, bring resumes to hand out, and practice speaking with professionals. You might even find yourself being interviewed on the spot. After networking events, follow up via email with professionals you talked to. Check out Eventbrite or Chamber of Commerce for these events.

3. Expand your knowledge.

We are lifelong learners and a huge part of professional development is continuing education. I'm not talking about signing up for summer classes. Instead, go on an educational vacation, pick up a new hobby, read best-selling books, learn a new language, start a blog, build something, visit museums, or take cooking classes. Libraries will typically have free how-to classes you can take. Watch webinars, listen to podcasts. Choose something that interests you; learning can be fun.

4. Volunteer.

Get involved. Become a big brother or sister, join a park clean-up day, help out at a retirement home or animal shelter, deliver meals, read to the blind. Organizations look for potential employees who contribute to their community in a positive way. Record duties held and hours put in, and don't forget to ask for a recommendation letter. Check out VolunteerMatch for ideas.

5. Earn extra money.

Find a part-time job that relates to your career. This will give you something to put on your resume. You might choose tutoring, landscaping, camp counselor, government jobs for students, start your own business, or create and sell artwork on Etsy. Skills that are acquired from these entry-level jobs can be applied to your career later in life. Plus, more connections.

You don't have to go to school and pay thousands of dollars over the summer in order to learn. There are several free or less expensive ways to continue your education and professional development, and still have time to for fun in the warmer-weather months.

Be productive and purposeful now, you'll thank yourself in the future.

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