Summer is a great time to relax and reflect on all you have achieved academically and professionally over the year. It’s also a perfect opportunity to take advantage of that extra downtime to accomplish some valuable professional milestones. Below we’ll discuss five ways you can use summer break to advance towards your future career.
Completing an internship is one of the most beneficial ways of gaining valuable professional experience in your field prior to obtaining your degree. Internships can be paid or unpaid, part-time or full-time, and can last anywhere from a couple of weeks to multiple years if you build a successful partnership with your employer. As an intern, your employer will understand that you’re new to the field and will treat your time with them as a learning opportunity. They will train you on the ins and outs of the position and guide you in honing your professional skills.
Additionally, internships are a powerful networking opportunity. Many employers view internships as a “trial run” where they can gauge your fit as a potential full-time employee. By going above and beyond at your internship, you can directly show your supervisor how valuable your contributions are to the organization and why they should hire you once you complete your degree. In fact, 60% of paid interns are hired into full-time positions, and that number rises to 90% if you’re asked by the employer to return for a second internship prior to graduation. Overall, internships are a strong investment in your future career due to the hands-on training you’ll receive along with their full-time job conversion rate.
If you’re interested in interning this summer, NLU is partnering with an organization called Parker-Dewey to connect students with short-term, project-based internships that can be completed either remotely or in the field. If you’d like to learn more about this opportunity, we would be happy to guide you through the process! Please reach out to schedule an appointment with a career advisor at firstname.lastname@example.org or 312.261.3270.
Like internships, part-time jobs are an opportunity to build up your professional skills, earn some money, and eventually move your way up in the organization or field once you earn your diploma. For example, business students might consider taking jobs as administrative assistants to position themselves for a promotion upon finishing their undergraduate degrees. Aspiring teachers can build up their resumes by tutoring or working as teacher’s aides while they complete coursework for their teaching licenses. Having work experience on your resume will build up your credibility and ensure that you have strong professional references when it comes time to apply for full-time positions. As a plus, employers are always impressed to see a graduate who was able to balance work and school, as it demonstrates a range of desirable professional characteristics like strong organizational skills, the ability to prioritize and work under pressure, and the ability to meet deadlines.
In a job market where employers value hands-on experience, volunteer opportunities can provide you with the skills necessary to demonstrate your future success in the field. Although volunteer positions are not paid, they are still valuable learning opportunities and they offer a degree more flexibility than a part-time job if you’re working around a tight schedule.
An added benefit of volunteer work is that community organizations are often more than happy to work with you to shape a unique experience. For example, if you’re majoring in marketing, you can reach out to local non-profits to find out how you can help them promote their events and services or build up their social media presence. As a plus, you can include volunteer opportunities on your resume just like you would any other job.
If you’re interested in volunteering, NLU’s Civic Engagement Center can link you to the right opportunity: http://www.nl.edu/studentservices/civicengagement/
If you’re tight on time but still interested in advancing your career, you might want to consider getting creative and investigating some freelance options. Thanks to the internet and social media, it’s easier than ever to employ yourself independently in your field or complete projects to gain a bit of experience and make some extra cash. For example, blogging is a popular option for students who have an interest in writing or digital marketing. Future teachers can gain some extra experience through private tutoring gigs. If you’re a business student and just completed a course in Microsoft Excel, you might want to put your newfound skills to work by completing short-term data entry assignments. The main benefit of freelancing is that you’re able to customize your work schedule, but a potential downside is that, unlike a traditional job or internship, you may not have enough long-term contact with any single employer to build a serious professional relationship or score a full-time offer. That being said, freelance work will still look great on your resume.
And much more…
In addition to the opportunities listed above, summer break is a chance to prepare for the upcoming year by writing and updating your resume, creating a LinkedIn profile, and building up your professional network. It can be easy to sideline these tasks to your to-do list, but it will save you time and stress by not having to cram writing your resume in between assignments during the school year. As an added bonus, getting your professional documents done early gives you a chance to get feedback from a career advisor before you start applying for jobs.
Classes may be out of session, but the Career Development Office is open all summer long, so please reach out if you’re interested in setting up an appointment or learning more about how we can assist you in launching your career. We are happy to help!