It’s officially summer break, but if you’re a business professional or student, you might be dreaming less of beach days and more of all the ways you can expand the all-important résumé while everyone else is on vacation mode.
Feel free to sleep in and queue the Netflix for the next few days — you deserve it. But, the summer months are so much more than a chance to relax. They’re also the perfect opportunity to plan, start new projects and get your life in order before graduation or your next career move.
September will be here before you know it, so consider trying some of our ideas to build valuable skills and experiences that will impress potential employers and complement what you’ve learned in class.
Many entry-level jobs require some sort of experience, and interning is one of the best ways to make sure you have it. Look for internships relevant to your chosen career field, and treat them with as much dedication and professionalism as you would a new job (even if you’re not getting paid). We can’t tell you how many times we’ve heard of an internship leading to a full-time offer, and even if it doesn’t, interning is a great way to expand your professional network, so make an effort to meet as many new people as possible.
Get a summer job.
Working over the summer is a great way to earn some cash that you can save up so you can work less during the semester. But it’s also the perfect résumé builder. Even if you’re working a temporary job in the retail or food industry, that experience can be applicable to your résumé if you highlight it using the right action verbs (check out the list here from Bauer College’s Rockwell Career Center). A summer job is also a great way to build up professional recommendations.
Start a small business.
Maybe this one sounds a bit intimidating, but starting a business doesn’t always mean you’ll have to pause your education or other work opportunities. Sell those awesome DIY-things you get so many compliments on through Etsy, charge for tutoring services or set up a blog that you monetize with Google ads. These are all projects that you can work around your existing schedule, and you’ll use skills that help you gain valuable entrepreneurship experience. And the extra cash that comes with it? That’s just a bonus.
Studying abroad is an obvious way to combine class material with your travels, but even if you’re embarking on an adventure on your own or with family, you can still make a learning opportunity out of the experience. Look for ways to get out of your comfort zone by trying new things, meeting new people and taking risks throughout your travels. These experiences might not always belong on a résumé, but they’ll provide great stories for future interviews and networking opportunities.
Learn a new skill.
Honing a new résumé-relevant skill doesn’t have to be boring. Start your own YouTube channel and add video editing, digital marketing and social media to your list of competencies. Build a website, and in the process, become expert-level skilled in coding, search engine optimization and graphic design. You can consult Google and YouTube tutorials for basic questions, or sign up for a class to get more in-depth instruction (looking for a non-degree option? Bauer Executive Education is now enrolling several courses in leadership, consulting, strategy and SEO.) Future employers will be impressed by your dedication to learn on your own time.
Required textbooks may no longer be on your reading list, but summer is the perfect time to expand your thinking with different kinds of reading material. Look for some of the recent bestsellers in the business field, like Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In or The Essays of Warren Buffet. Bringing these books along to your next beach vacation will make you feel productive even as you relax on the sand.
Give back to your community while enhancing soft skills, like working with a team, leading others and interacting with people of diverse ages and backgrounds. Research shows that employers value volunteer experience because it demonstrates your passions and ability to commit to a cause. It’s also another great opportunity to network.
By Priscilla Aceves