By John O. Salangsang, Graduate Counseling Intern
Summer…Time to find out which of my friends have swimming pools! At least that’s what went through my mind. I always felt like summer was the least productive time of the year. However, as I’ve been helping students go through the career development process, I realized that summer can be a great time to develop some new skills that you can market in your future career. And I’m not talking about getting a job or taking summer school (whew)! I’m talking about 3 simple and FUN things you can do to make the most of your time in the sun:
- Volunteer – In a recent employer panel hosted by the career center, employers were asked “What makes a resume stand out?” Their responses focused on the concept of uniqueness and emphasized the benefits of volunteer work on a resume.
Volunteer work offers opportunities to gain skills and connections while making a difference in your community. For example, I volunteered to speak at high schools in San Francisco about the value of higher education, which helped me with my presentation skills and allowed me to make valuable connections to program directors who could become future employers and professional connections (remember it’s all about who you know).
Volunteer work doesn’t have to be a drag. It can be a really fun activity to do for the summer – life-changing and personally rewarding. In an effort to help students, I was also able to develop personal opportunities and feel good about the contribution I made. Interested in volunteer work? Check out www.idealist.org and www.volunteermatch.org .
- Get a hobby! – Summer is the perfect time to unwind and have some fun. I’m definitely a believer in having fun and enjoying life! Though I want you to realize, that hobbies you enjoy might also help you build skills that can be highly valuable when you market yourself to employers.
Take for instance my friend Nico– he decided to take advantage of the video camera he bought a long time ago. He had fun filming parties and people at random leisurely hang outs. Nico then got into editing videos so he could share them with his friends on YouTube. Video editing became a fun hobby for him and he eventually learned such programs as iMovie and Final Cut Pro. Later he applied to some jobs and mentioned his skills in video editing which impressed employers and gave him a leg up on the competition, landing him a job!
- Informational Interview – One of the best ways to gain knowledge and inside information about a career you’re curious about is to talk to people who are already working in that particular field (aka informational interview). Connect with professionals through networking events, LinkedIn (and other social networks) and through your own personal network (friends and family). Ask them questions such as “What is a typical day like for you?”, “What skills are essential to be successful in this line of work?”, “What type of culture do you have at XYZ company?” and so forth. Not only will you become more knowledgeable and excited about your future career but you will also expand your network of contacts. You’re probably socializing already this summer, right!? So let’s just give some time to socialize with the purpose of getting a competitive edge for employment.
There it is folks! Three simple things you can do for the summer to improve your marketability. With the many stresses you may be feeling in regards to finding jobs, I hope you find these tips useful. Now get out there and enjoy your summer!
John Salangsang is a Career Counseling Intern at the Career Center and graduate student in the Counselor Education program at San Jose State University. John is passionate about helping students bridge the gap between college and the world of work. John also has five years experience in sales and training as well as various experiences in the field of education.