It's June. Summer has officially started, the weather is becoming consistently more pleasant and you're weeks beyond that last exam. No doubt, you're thinking about trips to beaches, fireworks and taking selfies with your best shades on. But just because you're no longer in the classroom or library and the sun goes down one hour later doesn't mean it's time for relaxation --instead, you should probably be aiming for a relocation of focus.
Don't get me wrong, you should definitely soak in the sun before the leaves start falling off again but, especially if you're a college student, you shouldn't let the work break confuse you. After working so hard to ensure your grades look good in the present, the summer's the perfect time to turn your attention to the future, even if you're only a first-year student.
“You survived year one, congratulations," Northeastern University's Lynne Sarikas told the Chicago Tribune. It is time to start seriously thinking about what you might want to do for your career,.”
Now that you're done being fresh meat, you might just want to focus on working, period -- along with shedding that freshman 15. We know. The temptation is there to hook-up with all your friends from back home, enjoy your mom cooking you breakfast, lunch and dinner instead of eating at your school's overpriced dining hall and to plan special dates where the one friend in your crew with a car picks everyone up to celebrate your one-month-away-from-each-other anniversary. But if you do that, you best make sure it's on one of your off days.
“Having a summer job also shows future employers that you are motivated and focused," Sarikas said. "While it is ideal to gain some exposure to your field of choice... Doing most anything is better than doing nothing."
For you upperclassmen juniors and seniors, an internship is pretty much standard. But if you haven't lined one up by now, don't think you're off the hook. There are only so many hours you can spend at the mall, playing basketball or toning that beach-bod that will be on display max 10 times. Depending on what field you want to get into, there's always something you can do. If you're a journalism major, blog. Fine arts? Draw your fingers off.
"By getting involved, you continue to build your all-important network while also gaining valuable information about what is going on in the field," said SkillSurvey's Darica Ward to the Tribune.
You also should be aiming to plan for the real world. It may hurt to just see those words -- that's understandable. Who wants to think about a rapid transition from living at utopia, where every single one of your neighbors is as young as you are and all the amenities you need are within an unreasonably convenient distance, to... bills. But it's coming, and when it does, you're going to have to be prepared.
"Build a list of target companies you are most interested in working for. Research to identify alumni and other connections at those companies," Sarikas said. "Start reviewing job postings at your target companies to get a feel for the types of positions they post for entry level."
It all sounds surreal, doesn't it? Actually, it's just real, no "sur" needed, especially for the Gen-Yers that just graduated. In fact, it can't get any more real. Most likely, you have loans to pay back in six months. If you don't, congratulations. You probably went to great lengths to do so, either by sacrificing a lot of fun by commuting (God bless your souls), working it off, or just being, what's the word... ahh yes -- smart. Perhaps even enough to have gotten a full ride.
Either way, you're now part of the workforce (we hope), which classifies you as either employed or seeking employment. And if you seek with the intention to find, just remember that you're in a competition. The winner is always going to be the person who distinguishes him or her self and can convince the employer that his or her skills directly match the needs of the workplace.
"There are usually way more job applicants than available open positions," said Forbes contributor Lisa Quast, who also happens to be a hiring manager. "The key is to determine all the ways you can make yourself stand out from others."
You're going to have your fun.
After all, it's summer time. The weather is easy. But don't forget, the grind never stops.