Yes, it’s February—still. But it’s also time to start figuring out how you’ll spend summer 2013. If I know TU students, most of you aren’t planning to sit around doing nothing. (You’ll want to make a few bucks, for one thing.) But I’d like to argue that summer is the best time to think strategically about your future career. What you do this summer will make you more employable when you graduate—if you choose wisely. Which of these suggestions works for you?
1. Do an internship. If you’re waiting until senior year to conduct an internship in your field—don’t. A recent survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers showed that nearly 75% of employers prefer to hire students with relevant experience. It’s a competitive job market these days (maybe you’ve heard?), and one of the best ways to set yourself apart is by taking part in more than one internship.
Maybe you haven’t chosen your major yet, or maybe you’re considering a career that is not traditional for your major. Non-credit internships are the answer, my friend. What better way to test out a potential career path than by immersing yourself in that environment? Internships outside your major are often easiest to land through family members or friends, but you can also get them through Hire@TU and other databases like Internships.com. Be sure to schedule an internship appointment with the Career Center (410-704-2233).
2. Amp up your volunteering. If doing community service gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling inside, consider committing more time and energy to the cause you care about. Employers will be impressed that you organized that charity 5K—not so much that you ran in it. Also, in some highly competitive fields, it’s very difficult to find part-time work or internships. But you just might be able to offer yourself as a volunteer. Paid or unpaid, it’s relevant experience for your resume!
3. Get a summer job that pays more than just cash. Sure, you need money. But your summer is too valuable to spend exclusively restocking shelves at Wal-Mart. Before you start applying, ask yourself: What are employers in your field looking for? (If you’re not sure, browse the job postings on Hire@TU or SimplyHired.com.) Will you need to demonstrate communication skills, technical ability, creativity, teamwork, leadership experience, research skills? A customer service job may be useful to a Mass Communication or Sport Management major, while a finance major might benefit more from working as a temporary office assistant.
4. Start a small business. An entrepreneurial spirit is always in demand, no matter your major. Not only will starting a business make employers sit up and listen, but it can also be incredibly exhilarating to take your own creative brainchild and test it out in the real world. Check out this article about low-cost business ideas that you can pursue while in college.
5. Meet professionals in your field. It’s hard to find time for informational interviewing when you’re busy with classes and exams. Summer is a great time to ask local professionals if they’d be willing to meet with you to answer your questions about their job. While you’re at it, see if you can shadow them for a day or two. The Hire@TU Career Mentor Database is full of TU alumni who have signed up to be contact by you. Don’t leave them hanging! If you’re looking for more contacts, join LinkedIn and use the advanced search to find local alumni working in careers of interest.
Five more summer-worthy ideas, just for fun:
6. Start a blog.
7. Teach English abroad.
8. Build an iPhone app.
9. Coach a youth sports team.
10. Teach yourself an instrument or language.
Finally—and this is just as important as any internship or summer job—take some time to relax, reflect on the past semester, and think about the coming year. You have three months to explore new things and try something different, and now—yes, February—is the time to prepare. Spend your summer doing something that will make you a better student, job applicant, and person. And have fun!
Kacie Glenn – Career Center