With the semester’s end less than two months away, if you haven’t already begun planning how to spend the summer months, now’s the time to start. Whether you’ve already thought about it and have a job or internship secured or you’re just beginning the process now, the Office of Career Development is a terrific resource that offers creative ideas and insight.
While jobs and internships are valuable and traditionally esteemed as ideal summer pursuits—especially for upperclassmen—it’s important for students to know that those are not the only options, nor the only activities looked highly upon by future employers and graduate schools.
Director of Career Development Stacey Wiley explained that she wishes to spread as much knowledge as possible about rewarding alternatives open to students during the summer. She added that she strives to inspire students not to limit themselves or feel down if they did not apply for work or internships—or were not hired or accepted.
“A lot of students are aware of the importance of looking for an internship. For example, over the summer, if they can’t find one, a lot of [students] look for a paid job—they’re savvy enough to realize [this] kind of experience is super important,” Wiley said. “I want to comfort students who either haven’t been able to find an internship or haven’t been able to get a job and let them know there are still things they can do that can build a resume and be really valuable.”
Numerous possibilities exist including volunteering, studying abroad, taking online summer courses and many more. “We’re happy to help students think of other things besides internships and jobs through conversations with them about their interests and goals, where they live and what networks they have,” Wiley said.
Choosing to spend your time volunteering—whether in your academic field of interest or not—stands out on your resume. It shows dedication to productivity, helping others and learning.
“Students should pick an organization whose mission they believe in and tell them they’d like to fill a role that will augment their career goals,” Wiley said. “Volunteering can end up being as much of a resume-builder as a paid job or internship.”
It’s also never too late to look into study abroad options. The Study Abroad Office is welcoming to students’ inquiries; some programs may keep their applications open if they have not yet reached their maximum number of students. Studying abroad broadens your worldview and intercultural understanding and many employers and prospective graduate schools know that and value the experience. It also offers personal growth and lasting irreplaceable memories.
“The benefits to studying abroad go far beyond professional development, as students often come back with life-changing experiences,” Wiley said.
Taking online courses is another way to be productive during the summer. Whether you wish to explore an interesting secondary major or you want to get ahead in your graduation requirement credits, considering online courses can expand your knowledge and get you ahead. They’re low-cost and convenient, as there’s no commute. Taking classes at schools local to your hometown is another possibility, but it’s important to first check with the school that the credits will be accepted and to get the transfer permission signed ahead of time.
“Through Open SUNY, students have access to over 5,000 SUNY courses offered this summer alone,” Wiley said. Open SUNY allows students to easily access classes throughout the SUNY system online—it encompasses much flexibility and support as well, which can be further researched at open.suny.edu.
Another significant way to boost your resume over the summer is by learning a new skill relevant to your field. “By learning a new skill, you’re making yourself more marketable to employers and internship hosts,” Wiley said. She advised that students search for knowledge that’s commonly valued in their fields of study, such as use of certain lab equipment for science majors, Microsoft Office Suite for communication and business majors and programming language for computer science majors.
The Office of Career Development has many ideas and a wealth of knowledge and experience about internship and job opportunities, as well as various alternatives for the summer. They hope students will take advantage of the assistance they offer for successful, productive summers.
“Since it’s only late March, there’s definitely still time for students to end up doing something really worthwhile over the summer and we’re here if they want help figuring out what those things are,” Wiley said.