School will be out for the summer soon, and we all know what that means—goodbye textbooks and study guides, hello tan lines and sleeping in late! If only. In today’s world, to stay competitive you’ve got to mix a little work in with your play. Here’s five ways to stay engaged from June to August—so you can boost your resume and return to school feeling energized, not like your brain just hibernated for ten weeks.
1. Start a side project
A side project lets you explore a passion outside of your field, connect with like-minded people, develop cool skills, and show future potential employers that you’re multi-faceted and interesting! All that sounds great, but what are some actual ideas? Well, I love eating, writing, and being vegan, so I created a vegan food blog. While I’ll never have a career in food blogging (all of my pictures are taken with my iPhone) my website allows me to hone my talents while having a great time. Although blogs are very popular side projects, the options are infinite. You could develop an app, or sell jewelry on Etsy, or write a novel, or read and review the top fifty greatest books of all time. Take something you’re drawn to and expand on it. Not only will your project keep you busy this summer, but it will enrich your life and improve your career prospects
2. Reach out to alumni from your school
So we all know networking is important; unfortunately, we usually reserve it for career fairs, speaker events, and conferences. Once again, the key is to take initiative. Find people who graduated from your college who are working in your desired field, and email them! Everyone likes being asked for advice, so request a little profession-specific wisdom. Once you’ve established a relationship, you can request more help, ask if they or anyone they know needs an intern or employee, gauge what’s currently working (and what’s not) in the industry, and learn how they’re applying their education to the profession.
If you haven’t decided what you want to do yet, this is also a great way to narrow it down. Pick four or five alumni with various jobs you’re considering and ask them what their work-days are like, if they love what they do, what skills they use the most, if there’s anything they wish they had known, etc. You’ll get a great sense for if a career is right for you all without leaving your desk chair.
3. Go to summer school
When you’ve just finished up a score of finals, going back to school is one of the last things on your mind. However, summer classes are typically much less intense than classes during the academic year; plus, you can take just one or two, giving yourself a relatively light load. Not only can you get ahead with your courses (or catch up!) but you can take the classes whose spots fill up extremely quickly when they’re normally offered. If you’re going home for the summer, find classes at your local community college. You can even take courses for credit online—just check with your school first to make sure they’re eligible for credit.
Because it’s easier to do well when you have less to focus on, summer school can even be a great way to raise your GPA. I promise, the pool will still be waiting for you when you get back.
This summer, don’t fall into the couch-Netflix-pajamas trap. By using one (or all!) of these techniques to stay engaged, you’ll be super productive while also having fun. See you in September.