Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Make the Most of Your Summer

No matter what plans you have in store for this summer, you can make the best of your experience. Whether it's a part time job, internship, travel plans, or a personal project, there are always ways to forge meaningful connections with those around you and reflect on the experiences you have. Here at Babson College, we excel at identifying and finding opportunities, but our entrepreneurial ability to create opportunities sets us apart from the crowd. Let's take a look at the different ways you can take your summer experience to the next level.

The Internship. Internships come in all different forms: virtual, part-time, full-time, paid, and unpaid. However, no matter the compensation or time commitment, you have the responsibility to reach out to co-workers and management in order to make a strong impression, build a relationship, and expand your personal network. Make sure that your expectations are realistic; you won't always be assigned a fascinating project to work on. It may take awhile to prove your abilities and earn the company's trust, but this is part of the natural process of obtaining additional responsibilities.  If it's been several weeks and the only experience you could add to your resume is "photocopy expert," it's time to ask your supervisor for additional work explicitly. An additional way to enhance your internship experience is maintaining an active awareness of your accomplishments, insights, connections, and the industry/company knowledge that you acquire. You should keep a running log of all these things in a journal that you update daily. You will be glad that you did when it comes time to edit your resume or prepare for an interview. A thorough understanding of the skills you develop will prove far more valuable than any pay rate or time commitment could measure; it's up to you to make the best of your experience. Check out these important tips from the Wall Street Journal on how to make the best of your internship this summer: Click Here.

The Summer Job. Just because your part-time or full-time job doesn't fall under the official title of an internship doesn't mean that you can't extract meaningful experiences or personal connections from it. Take advantage of your paycheck and create a budget and savings plan which will make future opportunities possible for you. Seriously, don't just hope to save. . . make a written plan and stick to it. Secondly, you are still developing valuable skills! Keep the same active running log of your experiences and accomplishments as mentioned in the last paragraph. Whether you're home for the summer or living elsewhere, now is the perfect time to take advantage of Babson's Alumni Directory.  Reach out to alum in your area, explore where they are working, and initiate a conversation about their experiences and possible work opportunities. Never directly ask for a job, but don't be afraid to find out about their work history, current role in a company, and inquire into possible opportunities available at their firm. Also, perhaps there is a small business near by that you're interested in. Don't be nervous to approach the owner and start a conversation about helping with a project or behind the scenes business operations for free. Experience is experience; it doesn't matter what label it hides beneath. 

Summer Travel or Vacation. Taking a summer vacation? What about a cross country road trip or an adventure into a completely foreign country? College is an incredible time to expand your boundaries and experience as many new sights and cultures as possible. However, guess what happens to these incredible, memorable experiences; you forget the details over time. For this reason, it is essential that you document your experience in any and all forms possible. Create a blog revolving around your trip. Take as many pictures as your camera's memory will allow, upload the files onto your computer, and start all over again. Keep notes in a journal or even a cell-phone app! Be aware of all of your senses and what they reveal to you about different cultures and regions. You have the ability to transform a personal experience into one that you can share with friends, family, and employers (if appropriate). Experience as a global citizen, or at least an open-minded individual, is becoming increasingly important as the world continues to transform into a global community through the economy and emerging technology. An employer will be impressed at your ability to transfer life lessons into the work place and as you age you'll be thankful that you preserved your experiences in such vivid detail. 

Your Free Time. Whether your weekly summer schedule allots you a few hours of free time or several days, you can always begin a personal project of your own. The development of all skills takes practice, so identify your weaknesses or areas in which you want to improve and get started. This might mean writing, public speaking, presentation skills, etc. However, don't focus your attention only on the areas that need improvement. You should dedicate your time towards your passions and self-awareness. That's what the iChoose program is all about! When you follow your passions and utilize your personal strengths, the rest will surely follow. Summer is the time to get creative; be artistic, read the book you've been meaning to pick up for months, spend some time outside, or just do something new and exciting. Apply your education to your personal life and create your own project, study something that interests you, or start your own academic experiment. Take a class online or at a local institution.Get involved in and explore your local community; seek out volunteering opportunities that interest you. Take the time to build your personal brand through social media platforms and create an online portfolio. Start your own blog; focus it on a particular topic and engage with the online blogging community. Never underestimate the value of your own creativity. If you think you're stuck as an "un-creative person" for life, you're wrong; prove it to yourself. Lastly, why not start your own business venture? As a Babson student you certainly have the knowledge, education, and resources to succeed. Even if you didn't come to Babson for entrepreneurship, it is undoubtedly the fuel that propels you through each semester.

Don't forget that UCCD is open throughout the summer; continually check the events and internships/jobs available to you through Career Connections. It's finally summer for everyone, but only you can make it yours.


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