School is out! Now that mid-June has hit, most university students here in the U.S. are finally excused from classes. Some of you may have summer jobs, internships, online classes, or even in the extreme case, a combination of all of the above lined up!
With all of the gruesome all-nighters and study sessions you underwent this school year, I'm sure the only thing crossing your mind right now is to get off of work and lay by the pool all summer long. While that does sound nice, you shouldn't neglect setting yourself up for future career success. I know I know...you're probably thinking, "more work? Hell nah." Just keep in mind that learning is an ongoing process. If you have career goals, don't stop working for them.
I want to share with you a few great ways to develop yourself that I personally use as you head into the summertime. Of course, having fun is important too. Don't forget that!
Set Up Informational Interviews
Whether you have no idea what you want to do with your life or you have a clear vision of your future, setting up informational interviews with industry professionals is always a great way to network and learn the ins and outs of a specific role/company. This is your chance to inquire about their career journey, what they like (or dislike) most about their job, and working with them to determine if this position or company might be a good fit for you.
A few broad questions I like to ask:
"What was your journey like getting to where you are now?"
"What's next for you?"
"What should I do now to prepare myself for post-graduation success?"
Earn Online Certifications
Earning online certifications is a great way to demonstrate that you are proactive and you are taking control of your career. Not only does this display well on your resume, but it also displays that you're going out of your way to improve yourself for the purpose of adding value to the company you'll be working for.
HubSpot and LinkedIn Learning are great resources to utilize, covering a wide range of various topics to learn from. If you want to step it up a notch (and depending on your career goals), I highly recommend working towards earning your Google Analytics certification. It's completely free and you acquire great hands-on experience that you can apply in the so-called "real world."
If your career focus isn't included in these resources, feel free to comment any online courses you know of that are also helpful and valuable!
Listen to Podcasts
Have you heard enough of this word yet? It shouldn't be a surprise that podcasts are mentioned here. It's one of the fastest growing digital mediums we've witnessed since the birth of social media. If you're going for a morning jog or commuting to/from work, listening to an engaging podcast is a fun and educational way to stimulate your mind and stay in the know.
Above, I've added my full podcast list. The shows I've been keeping most up-to-date with recently include LinkedIn's Hello Monday, Brittany Krystal's Beyond Influential, and Gary Vaynerchuk's infamous Audio Experience podcast. ( Let me know if you have any podcast recommendations!)
Create a Personal Website
If you are up for a summer challenge that will 100% benefit you in the long run, try creating a personal website. This is your chance to showcase who you really are and what you are passionate about. I haven't created a website for myself quite yet, but I included a screenshot of my good friend Germain's site. I admire how aesthetic it looks and how simple the navigation process is.
Some great features to include in your personal website:
Short bio encapsulating your experience and your passionsLinks to social channelsDemonstrated workArticles you've writtenTestimonialsPoint of contact
To get started, a few reliable website builders I know of include: Weebly, Wix, Squarespace, and WordPress.
If you're a bookworm like myself, this should be more enjoyable for you. Since the start of my summer, I've been challenging myself to read every day. So far, I've seen improvement in my written communication skills and my vocabulary.
If you're not a big reader, start small. Begin reading articles and ease your transition into books. A great resource you can utilize is an app called Blinkist. It summarizes your favorite nonfiction books for you to read or listen to in 15 minutes.
Build Your Personal Brand
You knew I had to throw this one in here. Now is the perfect time to begin developing your personal brand. The earlier you start, the better. Unless you've been living under a rock, you should understand that the majority of new hires are selected because they knew someone within the company. Start connecting with people now and you'll be flooded with new career opportunities in no time.
Although I highly encourage it, creating content for LinkedIn isn't a necessity when you're first starting out. You can begin commenting on people's posts and engage in conversations through there.
What I love about LinkedIn is that everyone is willing to help you reach your goals. It just takes some initial courage to put yourself out there. Feel free to reach out if you need some personal branding tips!
That's it! I hope you gained some inspiration from this article to begin focusing on your career endeavors this summer. It's a lot to take in, but if you're serious about making a change, you will. It's up to you to decide how you will make the most out of your summer and the rest of your college career. As always, don't hesitate to reach out. I'm here to help! Have a wonderful summer and don't be afraid to chase your wildest dreams.
Adrian Lauderdale is an incoming Junior at Arizona State University pursuing a degree in Marketing. He's passionate about all things marketing and personal branding. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions!