WORKPLACE SUCCESS / 30 July 2019How to Deal with a Toxic Work Environment
While you may be interning for a company, volunteering at a summer camp or working at your local mall, summer still brings in some extra free time. Since there are not a thousand things to do on campus, summer is a perfect time to get ahead in career planning. It’s time to learn and explore what you would like your ideal career to be, and how to make the most of your time as an undergraduate.
The key to having a productive summer is to have fun with all the opportunities in front of you. Here are 7 ways you can have a productive summer as a college student
1. Be proactive in Setting up Informational Interviews.
This is as easy as getting coffee with your neighbor at home who works in an industry that interests you. If you move back home for the summer, you have more opportunities to meet different people in your field. I was able to land my first full-time job through someone I knew very well, so I can tell you that quick a coffee or lunch meetup to learn about your favorite company or brand, from a person you trust, truly makes a difference.
2. Evaluate your resume and see which skills you can improve.
Often in college, I found that my classes gave me valuable knowledge and insight into my career field, but when it came to developing hard skills (like computer skills, presentations, data analysis, etc.) I spent extra time on my own to improve these skills. Whether that means taking a job training class like ProSky offers or practicing graphic design skills for a couple hours a week, be intentional in developing the skills you are marketing to employers. Show that you are truly an expert—and be one!
Another great option for networking, a professional conference is a great way to stay on top of everything during the summer. Many times these conferences have student discounts (which are great to take advantage of right now!), and you can search a number of professional conferences locally, nationally or internationally. One way I was able to attend conferences was through professional student groups I joined, which organized events to major cities to network with professionals. If you are nervous about going to an event by yourself, reach out to your classmates, fellow interns or co-workers, or other people you know in your industry. I can say that I never leave a conference without learning something new—these key insights are great when interviewing with future employers!
After a semester comes and goes, you most likely have a lot of work to add to your online portfolio, resume or your ProSky Profile. Summer is a great time to leisurely add more content to your online presence. You can also start networking with people, recruiters, and companies, reaching out to people who work for a particular company or find alumni from your university who are working in your area.
My senior year of college, my professor recommended subscribing to two email newsletters for marketing professionals (AAF SmartBrief and PRNewser). Reading these daily helped me so much in learning how marketing & PR was done in the real world. Becoming well-informed in my field boosted my confidence. Staying updated with the latest industry news is something for everyone. In the summertime, you can read popular publications like Fast Company or other industry publications by the pool or beach, or make a list of blogs to read every morning. (Side tip: A great question to ask during informational interviews is what publications professionals read to stay updated with industry news.)
Summer presents the perfect opportunity to take a step back and look at the direction your career is going. Take a moment and plan out some goals for the rest of the year, making them as specific and attainable as possible. Write out positives and negatives about your last job or internship, and the areas where you want to improve. Often we learn which environments we don’t thrive in, so focusing on what you don’t prefer can also lead you in a good direction as well. You will come back into the school year with a refreshed perspective and ready to accomplish your goals!
So while summer is a great time to relax and de-stress from the school year, use this valuable time to your advantage! Take it from a recent college graduate, that every summer is a great way to really focus on your career and learn something new about yourself, your industry and even develop a few new skills that will help make you more marketable!