Have some extra time this summer? Here are some suggestions to stay busy.

So you’ve been focused on school so much you forgot to apply for an internship or you haven’t had time to do some summer job searching.  No big deal, here are some things you can start doing once the mayhem of finals settles down:

Start a summer job search, its not too late!  Many places are still looking for summer or temporary help.  And any job will look good on your resume: event attendant, babysitter, retail, restaurant, summer camp, tourism, lifeguard, receptionist, city parks, etc.  All work has value!

Websites:  Indeed.com, LinkedIn.com, Craigslist.com, professional associations, etc.  Also: keep your eye out on the street for “Help Wanted” signs.

Volunteer! It’s a great way to stay busy, meet people, and to make positive contributions to society and/or the environment.  It is also professionally smart.  Volunteering:

  • Introduces you to a wider network of people
  • Shows that you take initiative
  • Helps fill in blanks on your resume
  • Gives you first-hand look into organizations
  • Builds your pool of references
  • Boosts your experience

Websites: Idealist.org, Iloveseattle.org, Volunteermatch.org, Serve.gov, Volunteer.gov

Seek out an Informational Interview (or three!) An informational interview is a short 20-30 minute meeting where you ask someone who is in a profession, field, company, or area of interest, questions that help give you a better picture of what that profession, field, company, or area of interest may be like.  It is a conversation that helps address particular interests in your overall career curiosity.  Start with people you may already know.  Make a list of professionals, grad students, etc. from people you already know (friends, relatives, friends of relatives etc.)  Very important: you are asking for information and advice, not a job, opportunity, or internship.

How to ask:

Your initial contact should convey a clear message (why you are reaching out) and an easy-to-understand ask (the action you want the recipient to take). For example:

“I’m currently a Sophomore at the UW, exploring the field of Marketing. Having discovered your name on the website for the Puget Sound Chapter of American Marketing Association, I thought you would be a great person to assist me with career information. I would really like to hear your perspective on the industry and the types of career possibilities within Marketing. I’d like to arrange a brief meeting or phone call at your convenience. Thank you in advance, and I appreciate your time.”

Remember that the purpose of this meeting is for you to gather information and advice so write out your questions in advance.  Think about open-ended questions that get them talking (it’s about them not you!): What trends are most impacting your field right now? What surprises you most about your job? What can I do right now to best prepare for a job in this field?, What resources should I look into next? What projects are most common or important in your work?  Brainstorm a list!

Create and update your job searching materials! It’s never a bad idea to reflect upon what you just accomplished during the school year, and to update your resumes and cover letters to reflect how you have grown.  Practice writing about yourself and your capabilities to improve your mechanics in this area.  Knowing your capabilities and articulating them in creative ways can get you an interview!

Resume: include education, employment, class projects, clubs, volunteering, independent projects, awards/honors, etc.

Cover Letter: more of a narrative that shows evidence of skills and experience directly related to the job through anecdotal examples of past accomplishments or experiences

LinkedIn: complete your profile, join groups, follow companies, look for alumni connections

E-Portfolio: showcase projects, experiences, and more

It’s never too late to have a constructive and productive summer.  Don’t let all the days waste away, do some career building on your own!  Get out there, be curious about the world of work and be creative about your experiences, skills, and abilities!  With a little motivation you can make the most of your summer.

By Jon Olivera
Jon Olivera Career Coach Jon Olivera