Summer work key to successful career

Ah, summer. What comes to mind when you hear that term? The first things I think of are beaches, no school, sleeping all day and staying up all night. Many enjoy the time away from school, but this is not reality for some. Right now there are thousands of students who choose to take summer classes, partake in internships or spend their time working.

As a matter of fact, those students who are engaged this summer are positioning themselves significantly ahead of those who are living the typical definition of summer. But let’s be honest, there are probably twice as many students doing absolutely nothing with their summer, and that in and of itself is cause for concern.

We are not in high school anymore. Relaxing and hanging out with friends at the pool is not going to cut it in this competitive job market. Throwing away a summer is the equivalent of throwing away your future and any potential careers. Employers look to see what students do outside of their school commitments, which means that extracurricular activities are important and often stand out to employers when they are shifting through a stack of resumes. Not being engaged in some sort of involvement in your free time can be a huge deal breaker, especially in the summer when school may not be taking up the majority of your time.

There have been some who have shared with me that their specific career or major does not require an internship and so there is not an incentive to partake in summer involvement. I say that is not wise. Even though many departments on campus do not require an internship, they are highly encouraged, and for good reason. An internship can allow you to determine what you do and do not like about a career or job. You are able to network and can possibly meet mentors and leaders in your field. Going into a field you have little experience in, aside from a couple of years in a classroom, can be detrimental.

What if you do not enjoy the work you studied for hours for; what if you do not have the necessary clips or have never written a press release for an actual company outside of the classroom? You are already years behind. Sure, stating that you enjoyed your entire summer at the beach may sound cool now, but how does that compare to the student who spent their time gaining experience, working or immersing themselves in an entirely different culture?

But consider this: even the internship kings and queens can have difficulty landing jobs after graduation because of their lack of work ethic during the actual internship. It is easy to spot when someone is participating in an internship just to stick it on their resume. Obtaining that internship can be the easy part, but actually living up to the high demands of intern work can be exhausting.

Even though many choose to ignore this fact, many employers do in fact contact previous internship or job coordinators to see if what’s on your resume stacks up to your actual efforts. That is why it is important to work hard and invest in your involvement.

Many students are already feeling the stiff competition that awaits them on the other side of receiving their degrees. Applying for an internship is the easy part, but actually landing that dream internship is not. Do not worry; in my experience, there is always something better waiting on the other side of that rejection email. Putting yourself out there and making an attempt to get involved this summer has its benefits, even if you do not land that dream internship. You are learning important interview and networking skills that will prove to be useful in the future.

Do something with your summer and make the most of whatever you may do. There is still time to gain that experience that will set you apart from the crowd. Volunteer in your community, continue to seek internship opportunities, apply for a job. Just do something.

Vel Lewis is a junior majoring in public relations and political science.

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