The spring semester is over for most institutions, and while some students will be busy taking more classes over the summer, others will have several months that are more or less totally open for them to work on their professional skills and build additional experience. This might not be the ideal plan for some students who may be dreaming of pool parties and lounging at the beach, but use your student outreach tools to emphasize the importance of balancing summer fun with utilizing the time off wisely. Summer break is the perfect opportunity for students to gain some extra resume bullet-points, make valuable connections and learn new skills that will help them in the long run.
Make sure you pass off to them this quick checklist of what they should be doing to make the most of their summer in terms of building up employability.
1.) Tap Into All the Benefits of a Summer Job or Internship.
While many students know the importance of taking a summer job or completing an internship over the summer in their chosen field, most might not know exactly how to get the absolute most out of this experience. Suggest these five steps that students can take to make sure they’re making the most of their internships. Almost all of these steps are applicable to students who are working a seasonal job this summer, too, especially the points about finding a mentor, keeping track of new accomplishments and shadowing higher-level colleagues.
Even if students are working a seasonal job that is not in their desired field (as is the case for many younger college students), remind them about the transferable skills they are gaining at any job. Whether they’re working in food service, lifeguarding or running a babysitting business, there are always opportunities in any position to build the soft skills employers are looking for, like leadership, creativity, and communication skills.
2.) Don’t Just Network at Work – Network Everywhere.
It’s easy to remember about networking when you’re in a work environment, then tuck it compactly away into the back of your mind for the next time you’re in a professional setting. For students who truly want to make meaningful connections and meet people who could possibly help launch their future careers, this is the wrong mindset.
Remind students that some of the most useful professional relationships are formed completely by chance. The man or woman behind them at the ice cream shop could just happen to have a sister who’s hiring entry-level candidates in that student’s chosen field. Instill in your students the idea that networking should become a natural habit that they exercise without even realizing it. What better time to start practicing than during the summer when everyone is out in the warm weather meeting new people?
3.) Use the Time to Learn a New Skill.
Maybe a summer internship or job wasn’t in the cards for some students, especially the ones who have a schedule that’s dotted with summer classes. A great way these students can weave employability into their time off between semesters is to pick one new skill and spend a portion of their spare time learning about it. This skill could be anything from public speaking to learning a new language; no matter what it is, at the end of the summer, these students will have another interesting thing to add to their resumes and online profiles in their skills and hobbies sections.