Make the most of the fleeting summer

By Rebekah Devorak | Opinions Editor

Now that the lingering haze left over from Fourth of July fireworks and endless cookouts has worn off, it’s time to face the unfortunate truth: The 2016-2017 school year is a mere month away.

The summer months are the perfect opportunity to intern, volunteer or join other organizations to pad your resume for a better chance at post-graduation success, and most students tend to take advantage of this time off to do just that.

But there’s no need to panic if you’ve spent the sunny days lounging by the pool or working a summer job for extra cash. There’s still plenty of time before August 22 rolls around to boost your professional experience or enlighten yourself in a new area of study. These four tips will help you make the most of the weeks you have left before it’s back to hitting the books in Gumberg. While your tan might suffer right now, your resume will thank you in the long run.  

Internships. Upon seeing this at the top of the list, you might be thinking to yourself, “Didn’t all of the internships start at the beginning of summer?” While this is technically true – a majority of the popular ones do – there are still plenty of professional work opportunities available all throughout August. A quick Google search shows openings, both paid and unpaid, at a variety of companies. Whether you are interested in hosting special events, accounting, marketing or working with nonprofits, check out what local internships are available in your area. There are even part-time ones offered for those of you would like to keep a summer job on the side.

Networking. If you don’t have the time to commit to a full-blown internship or can’t find the right one to fit your skills, try your hand at attending various events to network. Beyond gaining practice and insight into a specific work field, internships are key because they introduce you to all sorts of new people who may be beneficial to your career down the line. Networking does the same thing. Take part in TedxPittsburgh talks, visit a professional conference, sign up for a job fair or simply attend general events going on around the city. The important thing is to actually talk to people once you get there. If you’re nervous, come up with a couple of questions or talking points ahead of time to ease anxiety in case a conversation stalls.

Online Classes. The last thing you probably want to do with the rest of your summer is jump right back into another college course. But the Oscar Wilde saying is absolutely true: You can never be overdressed or overeducated. If you’ve got the extra money, spend it on an online class through a local community college. Choose something you’ve always wanted to learn but never had the time to pick up during the fall and spring semesters. It could be writing computer code, practicing your Spanish, analyzing classic literature or adding an extra skill to complement your current major. You can find courses that run for four or six weeks, and the fact that they’re online means that you can even be lounging poolside while learning whatever your heart desires.

Blog. If you already have handfuls of completed internships and tons of networking connections, one project that can carry you through the rest of summer is creating a personal blog to house all of the professional work you’ve done so far. Blogs are wonderful assets to have because they are easily accessible to future employers, and they keep all of your work in a single place that’s editable and changeable. It also gives you some control over what employers see first when they Google you, especially if you’re worried about some not-so professional content you might have on social media. Blogs should show your personality while showcasing your resume, your portfolio and your contact information. They’re also easy to set up. Use a platform like WordPress, which is available in free and paid versions. But if you run into trouble with the launch, consult one of the thousands of guides online for help.