For students, summertime usually means taking a break from classes, tests, and studying. For some it may include lounging by the pool every day. But as appealing as that sounds, it’s important for you to keep your mind active and focused on your future. Working toward your goals during the summer will help you stand out among your peers for job interviews. And not only is it worthwhile for your professional career, but you also can grow personally from these experiences. But how can you continue to grow? You can get a job or internship, take a few summer courses, study abroad, or volunteer in an organization.
The greatest value of an internship is the experience you gain from networking with professionals. Some people may become mentors, and the internship could eventually lead to a full-time position with the company after you graduate. Other experiences may build your character and leadership skills, showing that maybe you want to take a different route in your career. Even if you aren’t close to graduating, participating in an internship shows future employers that you took the initiative to further your professional development, including learning how to work in a team but be independent at the same time, learning office etiquette, and learning the basics from seasoned professionals.
Internships.com conducted a survey that found 63% of the class of 2012 participated in an internship program, and 86% of them had a positive experience. In an article on Forbes.com about the study, Stuart Lander, chief marketing officer at Internships.com, said, “First and foremost, these results tell us that at a time when 54% of recent graduates are unemployed or underemployed, the best chance you have as a student not to be part of that statistic is to do an internship. You have a 7 in 10 chance of being hired by the company you interned with.”
Extra course work over the summer can lead to early graduation or can help you fulfill a class requirement that’s typically difficult to schedule during the regular semester. It will keep your mind active and focused on learning. Achieving your dream job takes dedication and motivation. Once you graduate and start working in the real world, summer vacation won’t exist. Think of this time as preparation for your bright future.
You also can take this time to study abroad. Not only will you be furthering your education, but you also will be experiencing a different culture. Remember to choose your destination carefully as you will be spending two to three months there. You should also choose a destination that suites your interests. For instance, if you want to explore Italian cuisine, studying in England might not help you. There also might be scholarships available to help you fund the semester abroad.
Volunteering is another great way to keep active during the summer, and you can volunteer in many different ways. If you’re a writer, volunteer to write for your local newspaper or town website. If you want to be a teacher, volunteer at your local school or community center that has summer activities. If you like to travel, join a global volunteer group to help build houses, for example, in other countries.
Not only will volunteering help you succeed in your area of interest, it will also help build your character and personal development skills. It can teach you patience, dedication, and discipline. Volunteering has many benefits, and the summer is perfect for exploring your options.
There are plenty of ways you can spend your summer vacation. If you stay active and continue reaching for your goals, you’ll look back on this time more fondly knowing that you spent it wisely.
Written by Dr. Raef Lawson, CMA, CPA, CFP, CFA
Follow me on Twitter @RaefLawson