Make the Most of Your Summer

We’re about mid-way through summer break at the University of Oregon. With just a few weeks to go, I’ve been starting to think about how to make the most of my time before we’re back in class. I have a light schedule, but a long to do list with class prep, personal projects and catching up on family time.

If you’re a student or recent grad, how can you make the most of your summer? I have a few suggestions:

Update your resume: I’ve had to update my own resume this summer and I wish I hadn’t waited so long! Spend some time this summer adding your recent experience, making sure to focus on accomplishments and results. Make sure you update your LinkedIn profile, too. While you’re at it, why not update your online portfolio?

Do some informational interviews: Regardless of where you are in the world, spend some time doing informational interviews. Find a PR pro near you and ask if you can buy them a coffee and talk about their path and what advice they have for a young professional. Informational interviews lack the stakes of a “real” interview, so you can just have a conversation. You never know who you’ll meet that can help you find your next internship or first job.

You could even spend a day doing this if you’re traveling this summer — what a unique opportunity to spend an hour with a PR pro in Italy, Israel, Greece or Mexico!

Need some help figuring out what to do? Figure out how to set one up and what to ask.

Read: Read newspapers, read books, read magazines, read blogs… just read!  Need some inspiration? 25 books for  your summer reading list from LinkedIn Marketing Solutions blog; 12 blogs you should be reading; 20 people you should follow on Twitter (most of whom write things you can read!).

Attend a professional association meeting: Find your local PRSA, IABC or American Marketing Association chapter and attend a meeting. Most offer student discounts and often have great speakers. Another opportunity to learn something and do a little networking.  Note that some areas don’t have official national chapters, so you may have to look for a local option.

Learn a new skill: We can’t possibly cover every tool, app, tech thing or concept in classes. But there are plenty of options for learning new skills — and in some cases, even coming away with a certification. My colleague Karen Freberg has a wonderful list of options from Hootsuite, Hubspot and Google Analytics (and more). Or take a stroll through Lynda.com and find something that piques your interest. (Remember that UO students have free Lynda.com access.)

Volunteer: TBH, this is my favorite piece of advice. Volunteering can not only fill your time, but also help you make great connections and even build your portfolio! If you have a favorite cause or a favorite nonprofit, contact the volunteer coordinator or development department and ask if you can help a few hours a week writing web copy, contributing to social media or supporting an event. If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at a site like VolunteerMatch — search by city or by cause or by skills. You can even find remote opportunities that could have you working for a global NGO.

Oh, and if you’re a senior, make sure you read my year-long plan for senior PR undergrads.

I’d love to hear your ideas! If you’re a student, how are you spending your summer? If you’re already a pro, what advice do you have for your up-and-coming colleagues?

 

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