By Alexis Musick, Toppel Peer Advisor
With finals only one week away, career development is the last thing on any college student’s mind. Fortunately, there is a light at the end of the tunnel: summer vacation. While the ever-anticipated break is more often a source of fun and relaxation, it too can be a period of productivity. Summer break is the perfect time to develop new skills, take part in interesting experiences to build your resume, and further your personal and professional development. Here are four tips on how to make the most of your summer vacation.

1. Find a summer job relating to your career goals. Taking part in a part- or full-time job over the summer is almost always a rewarding experience. Not only does it give you an opportunity to pay off loans, afford rent, or stash a little cash in your back pocket for personal spending, but it also is an excellent way to start forging valuable connections as you gain experience in your field of interest. There are thousands of possibilities: Biology major? Check out field technician positions with an environmental company like Clarke. Plan to go into Computer Science? Don’t be afraid to embrace what you may consider a “lower-tier” job like Best Buy’s Geek Squad or a customer service position at a local tech score. A quick Google search can help reveal all of the possibilities.
2. Get an internship.Generally, while internships feature less (or no pay) compared to a regular job, they offer a more hands-on experience where you are able to work in a more technical, specific, or higher-level setting. Visit Handshake, Toppel’s career management system, which contains a database of internships that you can apply for directly on the system. Once you log in (with the same UM log-in information you use everywhere else), take a look at the lefthand column and click the section that says “Internships.” You can filter the hundreds and hundreds of results by things like location or employment type and find the internship you’ve been looking for!
3. Volunteer.Volunteering is an excellent opportunity to develop new skills that you can use in a job or internship. For instance, a student studying political science might benefit from volunteering with a legal clinic or community health center. The knowledge you accumulate and your demonstrated commitment to community service may give you a leg up when compared to other applicants who may have focused only on “professional” involvements.

4. Start networking and building connections. One way to get your name out there within your field of interest is by creating a LinkedIn profile (or polishing it up if you already have one). If you meet professionals at a career fair or during an interview, you can invite them to connect with you. Having recruiters or individuals within a company recognize your name upon application is a huge benefit; alternatively, the people you connect with might be the ones who can recommend you for a position elsewhere. Stop by Toppel from 9:00am to 5:00pm to meet with a Peer Advisor and have your LinkedIn profile critiqued!