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Build Your Future Career This Summer

Build Your Future Career This Summer

Peter Vogt, MonsterTRAK Career Coach

In an ideal world, every undergraduate student would be interning this summer. But in the practical world of your own competing life demands, not to mention the ups and downs of the internship market and overall economy, you may well find yourself internshipless right now.

But fear not: You can still do plenty of things over the summer to build the skills, knowledge and connections you’ll need to succeed in your future career. Check out these examples.

Volunteer Your Time, Energy and Abilities

From a skill-building perspective, unpaid work can be just as valuable as paid work, especially if your volunteer efforts help you develop essential soft skills like communication, teamwork and taking initiative.

“Volunteer work speaks volumes to potential employers, and if it’s related to the degree you’re seeking, it can only help,” says Renee Beaupre White, director of career services at Green Mountain College. “It can also open doors within the organization for future internship and employment opportunities.”

Volunteer positions are almost always available with nonprofit organizations, but don’t limit yourself to that sector, advises Carol Vellucci, assistant to the president for communications at Towson University. For-profit companies, especially small businesses, will sometimes be open to letting you take on tasks such as a market research project or Web site design.

Talk to People Who Work in Fields and Organizations of Interest

When Gina DeLapa was a graduate student, she set up an informational interview with the training director of a book publishing company. Before long, that meeting had morphed into an internship.

“The internship [then] turned into a letter of recommendation and a phone reference,” says DeLapa, now assistant director of career services at Grand Valley State University. “And those two things played a direct role in helping me land my current job, before finishing my degree.”

While summer may not necessarily be a slow time for people working in fields and organizations that interest you, often the pace is more relaxed. So see if you can arrange a few meetings, either in person or by phone or email.

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