Summer is a time of sunshine, chirping birds, and relaxation. As students, our hard work throughout the school year makes us worthy candidates for some summer rest. Before you kick back this summer with a glass of cool, iced tea in your hand and hit pause, it’s important to consider how you can manage your career even when lazy beach days are calling your name.
Here are some tips for using your rest and relaxation time to help your career.
Update professional documents
Even if you are not planning on applying for a job or internship this summer, it is a good idea to update documents like your rèsumè and cover letter for the future. The goal of professional documents is to land job interviews! It is important to keep them updated so that they represent your most recent, relevant and professional self. The Career Center offers a number of rèsumè resources. If you need individualized assistance, schedule an appointment with your career advisor.
Conduct an informational interview
Informational interviews are conducted with professionals working in fields or with specific companies that you may be interested in pursuing in your future. They are helpful for students who may not know what they want to study, what career to pursue, or who are interested in exploring a particular career path or organization.
The summer is a perfect time to conduct informational interviews as they help you gain knowledge about certain career paths and allow for career preparation at a time not as busy as the school year. According to Renee Carrigan, a career advisor at Illinois State, “If a student is undecided on a career path, the summer provides opportunities to pursue new interests. It is a perfect time for job shadowing and informational interviewing.” Visit the Career Center’s Career Resource Guide for tips on how to conduct a quality informational interview.
In the fall, there are many career fairs and professional events to attend. So why not prepare for them now by updating your networking tools and researching companies to find employers that you may be interested in meeting later.
Carrigan stated, “The summer provides extra time to network with employers. You can connect with employers on LinkedIn and build your network, including making connections within the industries you are interested in. Consider volunteering for one of the organizations and taking initiative to meet their staff and learning about their organization. Going the extra mile in these ways can make you stand out later as a candidate.”
To prepare early for networking events in the fall, consider these tips:
- Update your LinkedIn profile. In a digital world, expressing your qualifications and personality in a professional, online setting can help you stand out to employers. The Sherwin-Williams Company Human Resources Recruiter Kara Otis recommended, “While enjoying your summer, always be looking to improve your rèsumè or LinkedIn profile. Make sure everything is up to date and accurate. Add more connections on LinkedIn to continue building your network and start posting some content to engage with your network.”
- Order your free business cards. Exchanging business cards with employers allows for open communication about future opportunities and reveals to employers that you are serious about your professional growth.
- Do your research. As the fall semester nears, research organizations that you could envision yourself working. Check out the list of employers already registered for career fairs this fall. Direct links are provided on each fair’s web page.
Otis also added, “If you’re participating in an internship this summer, ask to take on extra responsibility in relation to your major. This will provide key points to share in a future interview, and potentially become a full-time candidate for the employer you are completing your internship with!”
Practice your professional skills
The Career Center provides many online tools. Take advantage of your time in the summer to use them. Some include:
- Hire-A-Redbird – an online job vacancy tool that allows students and alumni to schedule an appointment with a career advisor, upload professional documents, apply to job/internship positions, prepare and sign up for career fairs, etc. It also has an app, called “Symplicity Jobs and Careers” which is just like a Career Center on the go. Download it on the App Store or get it on Google Play.
- FOCUS – an online self-guided career planning tool that aligns your specific, personal attributes with occupations and fields of study. It is perfect for students who do not know what to career to pursue.
- InterviewStream -an online video interview practice tool which allows you to choose questions to answer and record your responses. After practicing, you can review to identify your strengths and weaknesses.
While summer is a time of fun and relaxation, it can also be a time for career preparation so you can continue to develop into the professional you want to be. As you grow and learn this summer, remember that as a Redbird, your future is so bright you’re going to need your need shades!
Brooklyn Vogel is a Career Center career ambassador and a senior studying English education. Connect with her on LinkedIn.