With school winding down, you may be wondering what to do with all your newfound freedom. We’re here to tell you NO SLACKING. Seriously, we at CaptureApps love a good time, but we know you’re here because you’re trying to move the needle on your life. We want to make every student more productive and successful – so here are some do’s and don’ts for college students during summer vacation. These items are curated so that you can build a great foundation for your future.
DO: Take some online courses.
One of the best things you can do is think ahead about how you can use your education to build toward your career. If you can use online courses, they give you flexiblity with your schedule, and you can use them to get ahead.
DON’T: Let your brain just rest all summer.
Like it or not, your brain is a muscle that needs to get exercise. Don’t just sit by the pool all summer. Yes, a little relaxing is OK, but take your mind for a mental walk regularly.
DO: Work on prerequisites for future courses.
It makes it easier to graduate on time if you can get through key courses for your major early. Make sure you have all the prerequisites in advance – summer is a time you can knock one or two out.
DON’T: Forget to verify that courses you take are acceptable options.
Taking summer courses could be for naught if they aren’t accepted at your school (e.g., you take something at a local community college) or are not applicable to your curriculum. Make sure you verify that they qualify before investing time & money.
DO: Learn skills that could help any employer.
Some skills work almost anywhere: using spreadsheets, managing websites, graphic design, speaking a foreign language. One of the ways to stay sharp on your break is to learn new skills, and it make sense to choose ones that can help your career.
DON’T: Waste time trying to figure everything out for yourself.
If you want to learn new skills, there are hundreds of sources of useful information. To start, watch (free) YouTube videos or find an online course. If you get stuck, look for a tutor or join a community. You cut the time to mastery by starting with a proper foundation like a course or a guide.
DO: Try to find an internship applicable to your career path.
Warning: a college degree does not guarantee a good job (we learned this one the hard way). What gets you noticed by hiring managers is experience and skills related to the job. Finding an internship in your field is like the fast-forward button. You may be able to earn some money and/or college credit too. Check out sites like internships.com or internsushi.com.
DON’T: Focus on money as the main objective.
Yes, you need money to survive and advance in the game of life. But when considering job opportunities or internships, leave a little wiggle room for the long term. Will this position teach me skills that will help me get started in my career? Could that position turn into a job after graduation? Is the boss someone who could be a great reference later on?
DO: Work on building some new personal references.
Speaking of job references, doing good work is another key objective. If you have an internship, kick butt in your role. Get results. Impress the boss. Show initiative.
DON’T: Loaf on the job.
We’ve had interns that worked well and interns that didn’t. Guess what – the ones that exceeded expectations ALWAYS get more from the opportunity and earn references later on. The ones that showed up late, spent the majority of time texting their friends or missed assignments learned nothing and get no love on a reference check.
DO: Read a good book!
As a corollary to “DON’T: Let your brain just rest all summer”, take some time to read. Choose a good business book, find a classic novel, get to that one book you’ve been wanting to read and haven’t had time. Reading is a life habit – those who continually learn do better in life.
DON’T: Just sit around and read Facebook or social media posts.
There’s good reading and bad reading – social media is a time-suck that probably won’t advance your life. If you do spend time on social media, make sure you create a good impression when recruiter looks at it in the future.
DO: Find a place to volunteer.
The next best thing to an internship is community service. Not only can you help out your community, but you can build skills and create key relationships.
DON’T: Squander your chance.
Like an internship, volunteering is a platform to show what you can do. Even though you’re not being paid, act as if you are. The more you put into it, the more you’ll get back.
DO: Create something original of your own.
If you’ve exhausted options for getting a job, interning or volunteering, try creating something of your own. Write a short story, create an interesting YouTube video (not with Mentos and Diet Coke) or build a personal website. Showing initiative can impress recruiters or hiring managers. “Yes, I took that summer off, but I learned WordPress and built my own website” sounds more impressive than “I laid by the pool sipping Cokes and eating french fries”.
DON’T: Fear failure in your personal project.
Even if you don’t like the results of your personal project, embrace the reward of learning. You may not write like Hemingway, create films like Scorsese or put the fear of God into Zuckerberg, but you can learn from mistakes and do better on the next iteration.
Do’s and Don’ts for College Students During Summer Vacation
That list wasn’t so bad, was it? You have many options, some that have major impact, some that make money and many that you can easily incorporate in your summer schedule without breaking a sweat. When you finally don your cap and gown, you’ll be a step ahead of others on your path to success.