Monday, May 2, 2016

How to Make the Most of your Summer Break

You finally made it!  The academic year is over and it’s time for you to relax and recharge until the fall….right?  While it is important to come back to school in the fall rested and focused, I would challenge you to think about summer break in a bit of a different way.  Here are some things to think about in making the most of your summer break.

  • Consider taking courses – summer is a great time to take prerequisites to keep you on track for your graduation plan. You might also take a challenging course to which you’d like to devote all your attention.  By taking the course individually without other content to worry about, you may find you can focus all your energy to that course in a positive way.  If you are looking at graduate school, you could also take pre-requisite courses required by your program that are not required for your major.  In addition, taking a course (or two) over the summer may allow you to take less courses during the academic year, freeing you up for other activities or to provide more time for your other courses.

  • Carefully choose a summer job – many students decide to work in the summer to make as much money as they can for the next academic year.  This is a great plan but consider thinking about all your options.  Might there be summer jobs that would be related to your major or field of study?  What are those job options?  Would the pay be comparable to what you make now?  Some students are pleasantly surprised to find out they can make even more working a job that is related to their field of study, versus going back to their old summer job.  If you are exploring career options, taking a summer job in a field you may be interested in is a low risk way of testing out your interest.  Visit your Career Services office to get ideas of the kinds of jobs that you are qualified for that would be appropriate, or follow their job posting page or social media sites to keep updated on what is available.

  • Identify a goal – while summer is a time to relax and recharge, it is also a great time for you to spend time on things you don’t necessarily have time for during the academic year.  Identifying a goal can be as simple as reading a book you haven’t had time for, doing some job shadowing, or performing targeted volunteer experiences. These experiences can help boost your resume, but most importantly, they assist you in getting that great feeling you get from achieving a goal, and may just motivate you to do even more!

  • Think ahead – think about what is next for you.  College students should always be thinking about what is to come for the next semester or next year.  Are you considering an internship? A research project?  These things take time to come together and typically require about a semester of planning, so start thinking about your goals and aspirations and making plans to bring those to reality.

Summer is a great time for you to gain experience, explore careers or pursue additional education without taking time out of your busy schedule during the academic year.  By thinking strategically, you can really make an impact on your career development!  Have a great summer!

Written by:  Stacie Hays, Morningside College
Career Counselor, Career Services 

Edited by:  Bobbi Meyer, Simpson College
Director of Career Development & Civic Engagement

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