Most students eagerly anticipate the summertime – warm, sunny days, relaxing by the pool or beach, and catching up with friends from home. But summer is a critical time for learning about the world of work, exploring possible career fields and building marketable professional skills. Some students will accomplish these things through internships, but there are many ways your student can do the same even if s/he has other plans this summer. Share these tips with your student so that s/he can make the most of the summer – and begin building the foundation for future college-to-career success.
- Volunteer. Identify organizations (for profit or non-profit) that you find of interest and inquire if they could use any help this summer. Suggest projects that you’d like to work on and can help you develop knowledge and skills in areas that interest you. Your initial good work could lead to additional projects, helpful connections and possibly even a small bonus at the end of the summer.
- Take on extra responsibilities. You may see your summer job as just a way to make a few bucks or possibly something that you have little interest of doing in the future. Explore the possibility of doing more than what you are hired to do. For example, if you are a waiter, lifeguard, or camp counselor, ask if you can help with the social media account or office operations or managing and training others. If the organization does not have social media presence, volunteer to create and run the account in addition to your other responsibilities.
- Take free classes. With a little digging, you can find free classes – either online or in your community – in which you can learn marketable skills or knowledge that will help you be more competitive in your future internship or job searches. Learning Excel, Powerpoint, Presi, Access, basic finance and budgeting or how to sell, market or negotiate will set you apart from others and increase your capabilities and self-confidence.
- Conduct informational interviews. Dedicate time this to learning about interesting jobs and careers and building your professional network. Beginning with your “Adult Fans” of family and friends, conduct informational interviews to receive insights, feedback and advice on careers and jobs that interest you. See the OPCD Informational Interviewing page for a list of good questions, an elevator speech worksheet, and a networking tracking tool, as well as what you must know before you enter each conversation.
- Job Shadow. Learn more about a particular organization, job or career field, by ‘job shadowing’. It’s a very easy and helpful way to understand what it’s really like and to get answers that are otherwise somewhat difficult to obtain. Ask a family member or family friend for an introduction to one of their friends who works in your area of interest and then ask to spend a half day or day shadowing her. Ask if she could arrange for you to talk with a few colleagues while you are there so you can learn as much as possible.