How To Spend Your Summer Vacation

If you treat your summer vacation between college semesters like a break, you’ll be letting three valuable months go to waste. That’s because while you’re lounging by the pool, your colleagues are making connections, building up their resumes, and learning new skills that will help them when it’s time to graduate. Here are some ways you can do the same, each and every summer before you earn your diploma:

Get an internship: They’re criticized for their (usually) unpaid labor model, but no matter your thoughts on the economics of it all, internships are the one of the best ways you can spend your summer. You can build your resume, gain valuable experience in the field you want to pursue, make connections with people in that field, and, most importantly, find out if you like what you’re doing. And when you’re ready to graduate, that internship could also turn into a full-time job – as long as you make the most of the opportunity and do anything that you can while you’re there, ask questions, and show the company your interest in working for them.

Volunteer: Internships are a competitive market. If you find that you can’t get one, you can always volunteer in the field you’re considering pursuing and get the same types of benefits – making new connections, building your resume, and learning new skills. Just like internships, a volunteer opportunity potentially could turn into job, too.

Study abroad: It may seem like a vacation to some, but studying abroad opens up many possibilities for research and study in your area of interest. If you’re an art history major, you can spend your summer in Florence, studying the masters in person. If you’re a budding anthropologist, interested in learning about immigrant populations in, say, France, you can go there and conduct research. Studying abroad can add a whole new level of professionalism and academic integrity to your portfolio – if you do it right.

Prepare for graduate school: Thinking about law school? Getting your MBA? Now’s the perfect time to look into graduate programs and start putting together your cover letter, resume, and references, and preparing for entrance exams like the LSAT or GMAT. This is especially true, since you won’t be burdened by your usual semester workload.

Take a class: Most schools offer a summer session with a variety of courses available to take. Use this time to knock off some of your prerequisites or general education requirements so you can spend the school year doing all of the things mentioned above. You also could take an intensive foreign language course or Web design course and add a new skill to your resume.