College students: What you should be doing over summer

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By Prof. John DeSpagna
Campus News

Final exams are finally over and you are thinking about taking a break over the summer. You can finally relax a little and catch up on things in your personal life. As the summer approaches, let’s take a look at things from a different perspective: “What can I do to help improve myself over the summer?” The people who most successful are those who are self-motivated and always pushing to do better. Why don’t you take that approach to get a step ahead of the competition this summer?

Let’s take a few minutes and do something simple. Write out your plan for the next year. This is something I learned from a manager, and I still do this every year. Write down what you want to accomplish academically, athletically and in the work environment. Writing this down helps and you should challenge yourself to do better.

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Another part of your plan should be to start thinking about your next degree. Try and visit some four-year schools and decide where you want to go. The more education you can get, the more doors and opportunities you will open for yourself. I have always felt that education is the great equalizer in this country. The more education you can get, the more you are helping yourself.

Something that I did a few times while I was in college was to take some summer courses. Summer sessions are available and why not try to take a couple of courses in one of the condensed sessions? You can get a little closer to graduation and taking a course in a shortened summer session may help you focus and concentrate more.

When you select a job for the summer, try and find a position in the field that you want to work in after college. This will enable you to get some experience in that field and help build a better base for future employment opportunities. Employers like to look at a resume that shows some consistency in it a student who has direction. They will look for those who seem to plan out their future and are on the right path. If you are planning on being a teacher, try working at a camp as a counselor or as a tutor. If you want to work in brokerage, approach an organization like Merrill Lynch.

As we are discussing employment, something that you should strongly consider looking into is an internship. Check with the representative at your school that handles this. See if they can set up an internship in your field. You can also approach an organization to see if they offer internships and report back to your school. The internship will provide you with invaluable experience and employers often ask you about your internship experience on job interviews.

While you have a little free time, see one of the academic advisors at your school and register for your fall courses. You have more class openings now that can fit your schedule than waiting till the end of August when sections will have closed out. You can also contact some of your professors now to write recommendations for you so you will have them available when you start applying to your four-year school.

This is also a good time to update your resume. You have some free time now, so use it productively. Ask some other people to look over the resume to make their suggestions to improve the resume. You can also approach someone in your Career Services office to help you with this.

Part of college is experiencing new and different things and seeing the world around you, which has differing viewpoints. Why not take a trip somewhere and see something different? I remember telling a friend that I wanted to travel a lot when I retired. He mentioned that I should not wait and do a little bit of travelling each year. This is one of the best pieces of advice I ever received. The little trips every year have led me to visit 49 states, every one of the US Presidents’ homes/museums and every major league baseball stadium. Currently, I have visited half of the NFL football stadiums and am planning to see the rest. A little good advice in college has led to a lifetime hobby.
Summer is here, but use the time fruitfully to help build yourself into a college graduate and a better person.

John DeSpagna is a business professor at Nassau Community College in Garden City, New York.