School’s out for the summer, but that doesn’t mean that your priorities go out of the window. Yes, summer is practically made for rest and relaxation, for fun and flirtation…to tan, to travel and, most importantly, to take a break from classes. The lure of a well-deserved lazy day and the temptation to take it easy may beckon. However, before you head to the beach, put a plan in motion to make the most out of your summer so that the future doesn't fall to the wayside. It’ll pay off – promise.
Just because you aced American Lit doesn’t mean that you should put the books down. The old adage still rings true – reading is fundamental. Have a working knowledge of what’s going on in the world, locally and internationally. Use your student email account to subscribe to The New York Times for as low as $1.88 per week. Keep in mind that many of the talking points among powerful people stem from of-the-moment stories. You’ll be able to bring your own point up – and look like a smarty pants! – by mentioning that long-form piece in the Style section, or a sweet story that made you tear up in Modern Love. If you don’t have the patience to dredge through the newspaper, subscribe to The Skimm – a daily newsletter with current events explained in layman’s terms.
2. Apply – and interview – smartly
Solely hitting “submit” won’t cut it. If you really want a summer internship or job (especially if summer’s already started), it will likely take a lot more than just filling out the application. Make sure that your résumé is updated and in tip-top shape. Ask your career services advisor to check your cover letter and résumé, and make sure you’re on any job listservs that your college or university might have. Do your research and find a solid contact in the HR department of the company that you’re applying to. Send a friendly email to that HR contact along with your application – even if you don’t get a response, your ambitious move will stand out. If an internship looks like it’s out of the question, try scheduling a day to shadow someone at the company. After all, you learn by experience.
3. Reach out
Make the most of your network – or create one! Now is the time to refresh your connections with internship bosses from the past semester, professors you admired, and even someone who you developed a career crush on. After all, many post-grad jobs are gained by referral. Don’t forget that internships are just like long job interviews – and make sure to do well enough to that your current boss can become a part of the netork that you’re trying to build.
4. Get a cause
Find a cause to fall in love with, and volunteer. You’re young and you’re educated –- you're the kind of mentor and driving force that your community needs. Share the wealth of knowledge that you gained over the semester with the generation that will follow in your footsteps. Interested in gardening? A political campaign? Animal welfare? Find out what your community has to offer. Not only will your efforts look good on your resume, it’ll make you feel good as well.
5. Find a new hobby
If your hobbies consist of watching foreign films on Netflix or ordering the best meal that Seamless can whip up, summer is the time to dabble in something new. Join a running club or a book club, or explore Meetup.com for new friends who are interested in unique activities — something that’ll expose you to new things and new people. The name of the game is to expand your network — and your palate.
While you shouldn’t lose sight of your goal – a productive summer – now is probably the best time to give your passport a workout. Take a solo trip, and be sure to get friendly with your plane seatmates, or other people who are doing the same thing as you. You never know who you might run into. Your trip could inspire you to explore territory outside of your curriculum. Bon voyage!