We’re entering the spring semester, ladies and gentlemen! Congratulations! You’re halfway through the school year. As many of you go back to at school (Or are already there!), you have an opportunity to reconnect with friends, professors and colleagues. As you get back to speed with campus life, please also embrace and invest this time wisely. The best way to avoid making this long spring semester even longer and more stressful is to start planning for the summer right now.
Reconnect & Look AheadBefore this semester gets hectic with mid-term prep, or the midterms themselves, I ask you to consider some important questions now:
- What are your work plans this summer?
- How do you plan to develop and grow this summer?
If you don’t have concrete answers to those simple yet complicated questions, then you’re probably like most of us and you have time on your side at the moment, but not for long.
Get On It Now -- Your Present Plan Will Be Your Summer Plan
School is officially back and now that we’re (most likely) done with all these snow days, it’s easy to get lost in coursework and exams and fight to make it to Spring Break. We’ve all been there, but don’t forget how quickly summer approaches. That’s your window of opportunity to gain professional experience to build on the theoretical skills that you’re learning in your classes, but you have to start planning for it now.
As an undergraduate, I did a “backpack-to-briefcase” seminar through my college’s career development office, and it opened my eyes to the harsh reality of the spring semester timeline. When looking for internships keep in mind that the application process can take six weeks, and that’s at a minimum, if you get taken all the way through the full application process.
- Two weeks for the application to be processed
- Two weeks to schedule and have the initial interview
- Two weeks for any follow ups and to finalize the hire.
Best case scenario, you get hired and have your pick, worst case you have to start all over again and begin the process anew with less time.
Prepare For The Storm & It Will Feel Like A Breeze
This forewarning isn’t designed to scare you, although it really should, but to raise awareness. If you take anything away from the few minutes you’ve spent reading this, then it should be to start planning for your summer now!
You’ve got a ton on your plate now and the easiest avenue is to keep your head down until everything clears up. However, once you look up again, it’s summer and the best opportunities have been picked over. You want to have a peaceful end, and middle, of your semester settled securely in the knowledge that you have summer plans. These plans could take you to new and exciting places.
Create Your Roadmap, Embrace The Journey
What helped me, and ultimately became the compass for my personal and career path later into my 20’s, was my collective experience abroad (See my travel pictures above and below!)
During my time as an undergraduate, especially as I was getting ready to graduate, I still wasn’t sure what I wanted from the summer or the future. I remember feeling nervous and apprehensive about the open road in front of me. There were no classes and no comfort of the school year structure, and as much as it scared me, I knew that I was going abroad to travel, learn a language, and gain teaching skills.
You don’t need to know exactly where you’re going to end up, but give yourself the best opportunity to learn more and amplify your skill set to make yourself stand out while giving you options to go down as many paths as possible. As you start to go down the open road, those paths will start to narrow and you’ll have to choose, but you’ll also have a clearer vision of what’s out there.
Take Your Passions, Make Them Your Life
The time frame that you’re entering now should be a time of exploration and travel. Find new, exciting ways to take your skills to new places.
Do you like writing? Create a blog about what interests you and write some articles or stories. Do you like pictures? Make a social media account. Build up your followers and create interaction.
Without knowing it, you are building a portfolio to present to a future employer that showcases your skills and how those abilities go beyond your degree.
A friend and former colleague once told me, “You have the freedom, but then again, you have the freedom.” After saying it a couple of times, the realization came to me that not having structure meant a need to create a game plan going forward.
What are you waiting for? Get ahead and get started now, secure your summer plans, and have the best spring semester ever!