As you’re headed into the last few weeks of the semester, not only are you preparing for final exams, you’re most likely thinking about your summer plans. This time last year, many summer internships were cancelled and students who hadn’t planned to stay at home found themselves without employment and/or work experience. Now that we’ve been in the pandemic a little over a year, companies have a better grasp of virtual internships and how they can work if necessary. With this new knowledge they are positioned to picked up their summer programs, following CDC guidelines for appropriate distancing and safety while still getting the job done. This means an opportunity for you to grow this summer.
Hopefully you have some type of summer experience lined up, whether it’s an internship, a research program, a volunteer opportunity, or summer school. You may or may not have heard me say before that the summer before college was your last summer to chill. Now it's time to start playing the long game. No matter what you’re doing this summer, make sure it’s something that will help move your future career forward. Although it’s late in the game to look for a summer opportunity, it is possible that a company hasn’t filled all their slots. Ask around at your campus career center and your department. Check student listserves and make Google your friend. Don’t panic if you don’t have a summer experience lined up. Yeah, it would be nice if you do, but it’s not the end of the world if you don’t.
If you don’t have anything formal planned, get creative. Basically, create your own opporutnities. Think about the thing you’re good at and also the thing you’d like to be better at doing and find opporutnities for both, or either. Now, leadership guru John Maxwell suggests only focusing on your talents, but I offer that sometimes learning how to do the thing you like, but you aren’t the best at teaches you something that focusing on your talent does not. It teaches you to understand struggle and how hard work stacks up to talent in different situations. So I say take a class that pushes you out of your comfort zone. Work with a group of people that is different than you usually do to stretch those muscles. (For example, working with elementary and middle school students keeps me on my toes.) The objective is growth and, in some ways,, you get to determine how it happens.
Here’s the point of this whole post . . . Do You and Do Something. Whether it’s formally and directly tied to your major or something a little different that speaks to a talent or interest, use the summer to your advantage. I’ll follow up in a little bit with more ways to maximize a formal experience or create your own.