5 Ways to Use Summer to Advance Your Career Goals

Friday, May 14, 2021 | Anonymous

You have finished all of your final exams and projects. All of your hard work this past semester has taken its toll. And now it is time for a much-deserved break. Summer break is upon us, and images of sitting on the beach, catching up with friends, and soaking up the sun all come to mind. Taking a well-deserved break is fine, but what about using this time to gain experiences that can expand your marketability to future employers?

The University Career Center & The President’s Promise encourages you to find creative ways to find the perfect balance between work and play. You can take advantage of your downtime by learning more about a particular position or industry, gaining work experience, developing and building new skills, and embracing networking. It is possible to let go of the stress of the academic year while also strengthening your career potential this summer.

Explore these five ways to take advantage of this summer to advance your career:

  1. Add a new skill to your resume

By learning a new skill or developing one you currently possess shows initiative to future employers. You can demonstrate that you are willing to go above and beyond the task at hand without being asked. A valuable skill, especially in a virtual environment. Take advantage of your free UMD access to Linkedin Learning courses. There are hundreds of video courses and programs to build your personal and professional goals. Search for industry-wide programs commonly used in your field of study, such as software, design, and business skills, to name a few.  

  1. Find a summer internship or job.

Search for opportunities that can further your experience and knowledge of your industry. Whether you take on a paid or unpaid opportunity, a summer internship or job can provide insight into your field of study and strengthen your resume. Still undecided about your career path? Taking advantage of short-term jobs is a great way to explore different career options before diving into the job market full-time. If you’re not interning this summer or want to make some extra cash, check out quadjobs.com to find part-time work experience to build your resume with other valuable skills, like customer service and leadership opportunities. Use your community to find work, call up your old boss from your job in high school or search your town for local businesses that may need to fill a summer position. Whether you’re working as a lifeguard or in food service, employers want to see that you have experience and initiative. 

  1. Network

Summer break provides a prime opportunity to build out your professional network. Yes, that means taking time to connect and communicate with new people and learn about their journey. Your professional network will support you throughout your career - the sooner you start building it, the better. There are plenty of ways to connect with professionals in your industry, such as:

Take some time to research professional associations in your area and attend a meeting or two this summer. Networking is a great way to gain industry contacts and learn more about the profession. The core of networking is building long-term relationships, building your reputation while having fun, meeting new people, and connecting with those you already know. Excellent business networking events can make you feel like you just spent time with your favorite friends, and it will have you looking forward to your next event.

  1. Read professional development books.

With no required reading for class, it’s a good time to read books related to your field. Try a Google search of “best books for a career in …” and see what shows up. If you don’t have any funds to purchase the books, take advantage of your community library. Keep your brain engaged by using some of that extra time this summer to expand your industry insights.

  1. Do a passion project in your field of study.

If you don’t have a summer internship or a part-time job, you can start a passion project or side project outside of the classroom. Passion projects can be an exciting and low-stress way to develop your skills and be a great addition to your resume. You could even do a group project with people outside of your usual circle, such as classmates outside of school, to meet others going into your field.

There are many reasons you should do a passion project: 

        • Connect with like-minded people who share your interests
        • Learn more about yourself and what inspires you.
        • Your project could lead to career opportunities.
        • You could find your life’s purpose.

Passion project ideas include:

        • Start a blog or Youtube vlog
        • Build a machine to tackle a problem you may be experiencing
        • Start a newsletter
        • Start a charity or volunteer with one
        • Leading a workout class

You can enjoy your summer while still pushing your career forward. Remember, consistency is crucial to career excellence!


Written by: Skylar Petrik (Marketing & Events Intern - Spring 2021)