Summer vacation is almost upon us, with only a few weeks to go until finals are done and the Spring semester is a memory. But that leaves us with the question of what to do during the long break. For some students, the ideal summer vacation involves just resting and relaxing. Perhaps get a place at the beach for the summer with some friends. Or just sleep in and focus on some fun hobbies. That sound like a lot of fun…but…it would be a grave mistake. The reality is that once you start college, everything you do impacts your future because it all goes on your resume. After you graduate and begin submitting your resume to prospective employers, you’ll be competing with others, many of whom spent their summers strengthening their academic and/or employment background. Since most students have a number of different options of how to spend their summertime, in this post we’re going to discuss a few of them.
Option number one is the most traditional: get a summer job. There are lots of reasons to get a summer job, most of which revolve around making money. And that’s a completely legitimate reason to get a summer job. But once you’re in college, both the act of having a job and the nature of that job take on greater meaning. Many students had jobs in high school and go back to that job during the summer. That’s great, as it shows hard work and dedication to an employer, both excellent qualities. Another option, though, is to get a job in the field you hope to end up in after graduation, or at least one tangentially related. Doing this builds your resume, helping you achieve your end goal. And, by giving you experience in the field, you receive a taste of what you have to look forward to. The earlier you do this, the earlier you know if the reality of the field matches your idealized version of it.
Related to the job option is finding an internship. An internship is similar to a job. You’ll be getting work experience within the field you’re aiming to get into. The difference is the pay and the college credit. Depending on your field, an internship may or may not provide a salary. Many internships don’t provide any remuneration excepting the experience you get. Many internships, though, can provide you with college credit (check with your department). So, you’ll be working, getting experience, and getting credit towards your graduation. That’s a win-win-win situation. Much like a job, you’ll be gaining skills and experiences in the field you’re interested in. You’ll be able to put the book learning you’ve gained in class into practice and see how the field actually works. You’ll also find out first hand what skills are most important, giving you time to get them before you go out on the job market.
Of course, if you’re looking to get credit over the summer, you can also take summer session classes. Summer classes can help you catch up on credits, if you’ve fallen behind for some reason. Or they can help you gain credits faster, so you can graduate faster. Or they can help you get credits towards a minor or a second major. Taking summer classes keeps you on task and focused on your education. Plus, the campus is a completely different environment during the summer. It’s quieter and more conducive to getting your studying done. You’ll likely learn more and build relationships with your professors, seeing them in a more stress-free environment.
Another phenomenal option is to study abroad. There are few careers or fields where spending time overseas or in another country wouldn’t be a huge plus for your resume. Doing a summer study abroad means you don’t run the risk of falling behind in your major or minor requirements, but you gain all the benefits, including learning and experiencing a new culture. With the modern world increasingly centered around a global economy, direct international experience will give you a boost on the job market. It shows you to be less provincial and more cosmopolitan. It shows that you’re open to new experiences.
So these are some of your options. You can sit back and relax, hang out with friends, brush up on a hobby. Or you can start gaining real experience and building your resume. While relaxing may seem more fun (and in the short run, may well be), working towards a goal is going to help you in the long run. It’ll show to your future employers that you are a hard worker, that you are motivated, and that you know how to plan ahead. And those are excellent traits to possess and to be known for.