A College Student’s Summer Career Guide

Summer break is around the corner, which means it’s time for a break from the books. However, it’s also a perfect time to step into the real world and learn a little about what your future might hold. Read on for ideas on how you can boost your resume, explore career options, and learn something new this summer.

Explore internships that offer real-world experience

An internship will help you gain real-world experience in an area in which you’re interested. Some internships are paid, while others are not. Regardless, an internship can help you get a feel for an industry and learn more about what it’s really like to work in an area you’re considering. Best of all, an internship will help you build valuable skills and is an excellent resume booster. Pay a visit to the career services center at your college, and don’t forget to explore internship opportunities online at websites such as www.internships.com and www.internmatch.com. Here are a few more tips on how to land a summer internship.

Build experience and your contact list through volunteering

Not all fields will offer you ample internship opportunities. In such a case, why not volunteer for an organization in which you’re interested (or whose mission you admire)? If you’re working already, volunteering on your days off or on weekends is a great way to show future employers that you are dedicated and hardworking—even if you don’t yet possess the skills to enter a certain field—and it can be a low pressure opportunity to build experience and make good contacts. Check out organizations in your community as well as websites like www.volunteermatch.org and www.idealist.org. Of course, don’t forget service projects for local or national nonprofits.

Job shadow to get inside look at ‘the action’

Some organizations offer formal and informal job shadow programs to help familiarize college students with certain careers. If you’re intrigued by a particular career or company, try calling them up yourself or going through your college career center. Shadowing is a great way to observe someone “in action” and get a true sense of what that person’s job is like and how organizations operate.

Assessments can show the ‘real you’

If you’re early in your college career and still contemplating what you want to do with the rest of your life, summer is an ideal time to do a little soul searching. Take an assessment or two to learn more about your personality type, aptitudes, how you learn best, and more. Check out the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, the Strong Interest Inventory career assessment tool, or other similar online tools, and spend time with a career counselor, teacher, or mentor discussing the results.

Do some homework on jobs

It is time well spent to research occupations on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics website. The Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections publishes detailed information about employment change, job prospects, and more in just about any industry or area you can think of. Another great website called O*Net helps you get even more info on what a job does, the knowledge and skills required, and what the outlook is in the state of Colorado.

Informational interviews give insight about jobs

If you’re interested in a career, one of the best ways to get information is to do some informal interviewing of people in that career. You can ask around among friends and family to find people working in the field you’d like to explore, or you can even call up companies in your area and ask the receptionist or human resources person if they might be able to put you in touch with employees in various departments. Explain that you’re a college student looking to learn more about a career or job. As always, your professors or career center might be able to help connect you to people as well. And don’t forget to prepare a list of questions ahead of time.

Seek jobs that build in-demand skills

So you’ve pounded the pavement for that perfect internship and come up short. That doesn’t mean you can’t still find a great job where you can apply your knowledge and boost your skills. Seek out jobs that offer opportunities to build those all-important critical thinking, team building, multitasking, and people skills. If you approach the search with an open mind, you’ll find that these types of jobs are offered in all kinds of settings.

Here at FRCC, the Career Services Centers on each campus can help you find internship, job shadowing, volunteer, and other opportunities. Be sure to stop by to talk about great ways to better yourself this summer and prepare for a bright future.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michaele Charles is the founder of Voice Communications and writes frequently for higher education institutions, small businesses, corporate clients, and others. She also is a fledgling children’s writer. In her pre-writing life, she worked in accounting and finance.