Career Center: For success after college, prepare in summer

By Danielle LeBlanc
On May 6, 2014

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Summer break is coming up fast and for many students it's a time for ultimate relaxation and catching up on TV shows on Netflix. However, summer break also provides time for students to start preparing for life after college.

 Krystal Hicks, the Career Center's associate director of career support and employer outreach, said she feels that there are numerous ways that students can use the summer to start preparing for life after college. However, according to Hicks, it's not going to be the same for everyone.

"I think there's never going to be a cookie cutter answer because every student's path is going to be different," Hicks said. "But I think there are benefits."

   For example, Hicks explained that traveling during the summer for someone who's an international affairs major would be a good experience. 

"Any kind of international experience, especially if you're traveling outside the country, employers love that," Hicks said. "I really encourage students to put their international travel - even if it's just leisure travel - on their resume."

Megan Hales, assistant director of student engagement and young alumni programs, agreed with Hicks. Hales said that travel is a great way to gain experience, especially if it pertains to the student's major.

"Summer is a great time to travel and gain experience if you're able to," Hales said.

     According to Hicks, travel helps to show diversity for students. Hicks explained that for students, it shows employers that they are culturally aware and that they are used to being in diverse areas.

"You've gone outside of the comfort bubble," Hicks said. "So I think there's benefits to that if it's something that could work for you." Hicks claimed she understands the need and desire for students to make money over the summer, whether it's keeping their old restaurant job or a job at the local shoe store. However, Hicks said there is also another way to make money during the summer without sacrificing opportunities.

"[Find] something that's somewhat related to your major or what you want to do when you leave college," Hicks said. "That's going to be what you want to focus on."

     Hicks stressed that with the short amount of time left before the "real world," it's best to be as competitive as possible. For example, Hicks said if a student is a communication major, they could find a work-study opportunity or a summer job working in the UNH communication department. Working a summer internship at a local newspaper or news station would be beneficial as well.

"Even if you're just pushing papers, meeting the people in the field, being able to pick the brains of people in your field, just getting a sense of your field, is so incredibly important," Hicks said.

     Hicks said a summer internship is also another great way to prepare for life after college. According to Hicks, summer internships are more beneficial because during the semester, it's hard to juggle an internship with classes.

"Summer is great because a lot of times you can get a full time internship," Hicks said. "During a semester, most internships are 10 to 20 hours a week max because employers understand you're juggling your courses."

Blogging, job-shadowing a professional and doing informational interviews are other ways students can utilize the summer and prepare for life after college. According to Hicks, starting a blog helps students to stand out.

"Starting an online presence for yourself is so incredibly important," Hicks said. "Summer time is a really great time to start that because you have more time to dedicate to it."

     Hicks said that a job shadow and an informational interview are two really powerful things that students can do for themselves over the summer. She claimed it's a good way to get experience and gain perspective.

"Doing an informational interview allows you to get this perspective you haven't been able to get yet based on experience," Hicks said. "A job-shadow is basically like a one day internship."

     According to Hales, a great way to get involved with job-shadows is to get in touch with UNH alumni. Hales encourages students to reach out to alums over the summer from their field and have them host a job shadow or an informational interview.

"It helps to make an impression," Hales said. "It shows that you're curious, and employers love that."


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