As the 2015 spring semester comes to an end, exams are in sight and summer’s beauty and warmth are in full view. While summer means no school (yay!), it also means you’re one step closer to graduation. First of all, you should enjoy the summer, you’ve EARNED the time off; but you also owe it to yourself to start developing your career. Working on your career doesn’t have to take the entire summer. If you spend at least an hour a day on your career development you can hit the ground running in the fall when you begin to look for full-time, part-time and/or internship opportunities.
Here are a few career-building tips you can use over the summer:
Identify your career goal
The first step in starting your career is being able to articulate what you want to do. The tricky part is getting to that decision. Use a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analysis to start this process. Invite your friends and family to also conduct a SWOT analysis of you. They may see things that you don’t see or don’t want to accept and their insights are valuable. The SWOT analysis is the beginning of understanding what you would be most successful doing.
Learn more about the industries of interest
If you were able to find your field of interest that’s great, if not, then try to create a list of all the fields you’re interested in. Once you have that information, the next step is research. Your research should be focused and industry specific. Search for required skills and capabilities, current and future opportunities, gaps and needs, and emerging thought leadership. These insights will provide a glimpse into the needs and can help you to position yourself as the right candidate.
Create and share content
Creating and sharing personal curated content demonstrates your knowledge and interest in a particular field. Fortunately you live in an age where you don’t have to worry about out who will publish this content. Social media (e.g. LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and WordPress) allows you to easily publish this information. Share compelling and thoughtful content that can demonstrate your value, knowledge and skills. For example, if you are in Finance and interested in trading; create and share content related to the directions of trading. Your content will be open to the world, it is your online “footprint”, spend the time to make the content relevant and compelling if you want to stand out.
Engage and network
Find groups that share your interests and engage and network with the members. You should also consider joining groups that can enhance your skills. Toastmasters for example, can help with speech writing and delivering. Remember to utilize the contacts you meet on your summer job, buy coffee if you must, but engage, engage, engage. If you don’t have a summer job then volunteer, try idealist.org to search for thousands of volunteer opportunities.