Making Summer Plans — hints for your college student*

It’s that time of year again, when college students pack up and head home for much needed R&R. As a parent, I know a break from the stress of school is important. As a college recruiter, however, one thing that always made an impression on me was the way students chose to spend their time off. While there are lots of options for school breaks, some choices make a stronger impact on recruiters than others. If your student doesn’t have a plan in place for summer break, here are a few thoughts to share.

Get a job that develops new skills

Your student doesn’t have an internship lined up for the summer? That’s okay — there are still jobs out there that will strengthen his resumé. The key is to find one that will develop critical soft (non-technical) skills. Topping the list of these sought-after skills are:

  • communication skills (both verbal and written),

  • leadership skills,

  • teamwork skills and

  • problem-solving skills.

So, if your son has spent the past couple of summers working as a lifeguard at the community pool, now would be a good time to try something new. Encourage him to find a position that lets him work on a team, or a job that involves analyzing information and making decisions. The new skills he learns will be a worthy addition to his resumé.

Travel – with purpose

Is your daughter thinking of traveling this summer? What a delightful way to spend time off! International travel looks good on a resumé, but it’s most impressive when students can talk about what they’ve gained as a result.

I recently met with two students who had international travel listed on their resumés. One enjoyed time at the beach and clubs; the other focused her days studying in Madagascar, learning about conservation, sustainability, and environmental policy. While both had exciting summers, the second student came back with new knowledge and experiences to add to her resumé and talk about in interviews.

If your daughter is longing to explore new territory this summer, go ahead and encourage her. But before she heads off, sit down together and talk about what she hopes to gain from the experience that will add to her skill set and make her attractive to future employers. With advance planning, she can enjoy her summer as well as make it a valuable learning experience.

Add to accomplishments as a volunteer

Does your son want to donate his time to a worthy cause? Volunteering is a meaningful way to spend a summer break and can add value to a student’s resumé, especially if that student has limited work experience. If your son is considering volunteering during his break, here are a couple ways you can help:

  • Encourage him to find an opportunity related to his field of study and/or career goals.

  • Help him identify a few goals he would like to reach through the volunteer experience. Does he want to gain a deeper understanding of a particular subject? Are there specific skills he hopes to develop?

  • Help him evaluate his options to determine which one(s) will allow him to make the greatest contribution and meet his goals.

Ideally, when your son returns to school in the fall, he’ll not only have had a rewarding summer but will also have several new accomplishments he can list on his resumé.

Start a business

Does your daughter have an idea for a new business? Maybe she should go for it this summer. Whether it’s developing a new app or starting a non-profit, the knowledge, skills and experiences gained during the process of launching a new business can be invaluable. In reviewing resumés, these students always caught my attention. They usually had many of the soft skills I looked for in a new hire: initiative, motivation, problem-solving skills, decision-making skills, and organizational skills, to name just a few.

If your daughter has the drive and determination to bring a new idea to the market, take some time to discuss it with her. Help her find the resources she needs, but let her take the lead and do the work. Knowing you have her back may be all she needs to turn her vision into a reality.

Summer is the perfect time for your student to relax, recharge and reconnect. And, with a little guidance from you, add to her resumé.

*This article was originally published at collegiate

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