By Amber Meyers, Assistant Director, Boston College Career Center
“What are your plans this summer?” is a common question asked of students once the snow (finally) stops falling here in Boston and the spring semester begins to wind down.
By now you may have considered interning at your dream company, taking classes, or studying abroad. Or maybe you’re feeling confused because you’re not quite sure how to best use your summer months?
Fear not! The good news is you’re in control of how you spend your time this summer and you can still plan to make the most of it. There are many steps you can take to have a successful summer! Tackling even just one or two will help you explore the possibilities and develop skills.
Conduct Informational Interviews – Make connections while exploring your career options! Reach out to family, friends, or BC alumni who work at an organization of interest to you or in a field you’re curious about and set up a time to talk with them about their career, their company, and industry. This is a great way to network and learn about what it takes to be successful in an industry from a professional in the field. You may even find a mentor in the field or learn about future internship opportunities. LinkedIn is a great resource for expanding your network and connecting with BC alums to interview.
Get Experience – While many students put pressure on themselves to get an internship as early as freshman or sophomore year, most companies target juniors for their internship programs. While you may not land an internship, there are so many opportunities to develop transferable skills through traditional summer jobs. For example, being a server in a restaurant may help you develop strong customer service or communication skills, and working as a camp counselor may help you develop teamwork or problem solving skills. It is important to value your experiences and be ready to tell potential employers how you can add value to their company based on your experience from previous employment.
Be strategic about the opportunities you seek. Many students want to work for large companies or organizations after graduation, but they don’t always think of ways to get insights into the company. For example, if a student is interested in a career with L Brands, it could be very beneficial for them to get some in-store experience at Bath & Body Works. This would be a great way to show that you understand the company culture and the customers in an interview.
Develop a Skill – Perhaps you’ve been meaning to learn some new Excel formulas, get familiar with a social media platform, or brush up on a foreign language. Summer is a great time to focus on the things you have been putting off. Wondering what skills are sought within your industries of interest? Take some time over the summer to look at job descriptions for the types of positions you might want to apply for someday so you know how best to prepare.
Volunteer – Use your personal and BC network while researching online to identify organizations you may want to volunteer with. Many skills can be developed through volunteering. Additionally, you will get a chance to explore an organization and cause while making connections. Approach volunteer opportunities as if you’re applying for your dream job. Write a personalized cover letter and send it along with your resume to local organizations and offer your help. Even if you don’t land a gig in the marketing department, you never know how much you may gain (both personally and professionally) from the experience of giving back.
Do Something That Makes You Interesting – In the words of Kid President, “make the world more awesome!” What do you like to do for fun? What would you enjoy talking to people about in a casual setting? Training for a half-marathon, learning a new instrument, perfecting your cooking skills, or taking a cross country trip? The opportunities are endless, but you are the only person who can decide what makes you interesting.
Best of luck making your summer a meaningful and memorable one. Hopefully when you head back to school in the fall and someone asks, “What did you do this summer?” you will have plenty to talk about!