Whether you are a high school or college student, thoughts of summer break looming ahead likely remind you of warm days and cool summer nights.
When I was a student, summer represented endless rounds of golf and severe sunburn. It also meant uninterrupted time with my friends and relaxed fun.
Summer should be all these things and more. However, you should know that summer is your best advantage to separating yourself from your peers to get ahead.
This summer can be your opportunity to get ahead financially, academically, in relationships, and in your future career.
Get An Internship
The number one career tip I give students is to get an internship. There’s really no better way to figure out what to do with your life. If you can get a paid internship – all the more power to you, but an unpaid one will pay off in the long run.
An internship in the summer of your school years is a great way to weed out what you DON’T want to do with your life. Most people don’t get it right on the first shot. Many spend the first years of their adult career regretting their first career choice.
I had three internships under my belt before starting my adult career. Yet, I still wish I would have done more. Could you accomplish four or five internships by graduation?
Work a Relevant Job
If you can’t get an internship, aim to get a job in the same industry you hope to work in some day. Maybe it’s as a temporary administrative assistant at a legal or financial office.
You’d be surprised how much you can learn about the career field while answering phones.
Work an Irrelevant Job Too
By irrelevant job, I mean something that’s not directly related to your intended career path. Even with an internship or relevant job, you will likely be working less than full time.
Use those extra hours to pick up a well paying job on the side. Here’s a hint: most of them are in the service industry.
With that well paying irrelevant job, you’re likely to have extra cash laying around. It’s tempting to splurge on a music festival or sports event. Instead, stash that cash!
In college, I worked a job that paid tips in cash. It was just walking distance from a casino. It took everything I had to bring that cash to the bank immediately instead of dropping it into a slot machine.
Stashing cash isn’t very fun. Getting ahead of your peers financially is though. Save your hard earned dollars to pay for tuition. Ask any college grad with student loans. They will agree.
Refine Your Inner Circle
When was the last time you took an honest look at your inner circle of friends? I mean a genuine look at what each person gives you and takes from you.
You can’t go the distance with people who criticize your goals. Friends who add to your efforts are the type you should keep around.
Summer is an excellent time to end relationships that don’t add to your life!
Add Strategic Relationships
Speaking of relationships, do you have a relationship with someone who can help you achieve your goals?
Is there someone further along in life who has lived through what you’re trying to do? Can you develop a relationship with them to learn from them?
Try and Fail
Fail to get ahead? That doesn’t make sense!
Actually, failing while you are still a student is one of the best ways to get ahead. Failing will teach you more about what you like and dislike than winning ever will.
It’s better to fail when there’s less at stake.
I once held a summer job that I nearly quit because it was so awful. It felt like a wasted summer. It’s a good thing I didn’t quit. Not only did I learn more from that job than many others, but I used it as an example in my first full-time job interview and it was one of the hooks that made them choose me!
Hone a Specific Set of Skills
Has the idea of working for yourself someday ever crossed your mind? In order to do so, you’ll need to be well versed in a very specific skill set.
Even if you’ve never thought about working for yourself, the faster you can become an “expert” on your subject matter, the better.
Create a Memorable Summer
I’ve always been a member of the “work hard, play hard” camp. Work hard first, then play hard.
Summer breaks during my school years were some of the most memorable times of my life.
You’re meant to have fun, be spontaneous, enjoy time with your friends, and explore. Do those things. Create memories that will last a lifetime.
The memories may not necessarily get you ahead, but you won’t ever regret it.
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