Here is a radical idea: what if summer could be about relaxing, having fun with new friends while also learning new applicable skills to use in the real world? These days it seems impossible to reconcile the two. It can be stressful for students, especially those approaching prospects of college, to focus on their future when they are so caught up with homework, social life and all of the challenges of growing up. It’s tempting to just stay in the moment and neglect the bigger picture. It’s never too late, however, to map out a course of action for the future so that your goals (which may seem far off and distant now) seem practical and easy to accomplish. Here are a few of our handy tips to stay ahead and avoid falling behind this summer.
Tip 1. Focus on what you ENJOY doing: This sounds simple but sometimes it’s easy to get caught up trying to improve our weaknesses and neglect the very subject or interest we love the most. Summer should be about what you love to do and could see yourself enjoying for a long time. This summer experience will help you discover if this interest has career potential. Whether it is art, engineering, tennis, or cooking- summer programs are diverse so that students can hone in on their interests while learning how to monetize their skillset. We even have a social media influencer course! It is healthy to experiment and try new things, but just remember not to let that interfere with what drives you.
Tip 2. Write down your goals. Neuroscience research has proven that vividly writing down your goals is strongly associated with accomplishing them. People, when they do so, are 1.2 to 1.4 times more likely to successfully accomplish their goals. Yet, only 20% of people in the study wrote down their goals to this extent. Writing it down also helps encode it in our brain, as opposed to reading it or seeing it from a secondary source. And, if your goals are not fully fleshed out yet, don’t fret. Tip 3 will help you get there.
Tip 3. Set modest goals at first. Our ambitions can sometimes be our downfall. They can appear lofty and cause us to self-criticize ourselves for not making what we claim to be the proper strides in the right direction. Start by setting more modest goals for the day, week or month. This will boost your confidence and give you the belief that bigger goals are actually possible. You’re not going to land your dream job in one night. So start by building your resume. Travel, volunteer, intern at an organization you admire. Find someone in that company to learn and grow from. This is the time to dip your feet in the water of a working life. No matter what the role is, make sure you are learning new skills to add to that resume. Don’t let yourself strike out by swinging for a home run on the first pitch.
Tip 4. Put yourself in the best position to succeed. If you’re a rising senior you’ve most likely hurdled the SAT or ACT already. If you haven’t, however, it’s important to use the summer to get a jumpstart on preparing. Just ‘winging’ the test is a recipe for failure. Make index cards. Take practice tests to determine your strengths and then spend extra time preparing for subjects that tested below par. However, everyone needs to understand that there isn’t just one way to prepare. It should be customized to your needs. As a mother of four teens, three of whom are now in college, Juli Bennet from Back to Basics Learning, knows a thing or two about college prep. “My best advice to parents is to let the child drive the choices. My kids had their own goals based on the colleges they wanted to apply to. Each of mine took the SAT once and then decided for themselves if they wanted some tutoring.” Obviously, there is no singular plan that works best. It’s simply a matter of figuring out your needs and adjusting accordingly.
Another way to put yourself in the best possible light is to ensure your social media platforms are appropriate and moderated to a professional standard. You’d be surprised at how much of a premium employers place on appearances. Does your social media presence currently reflect your best self? If not, change it for the better. Whether we like it or not, social media is an integral part of the hiring process and so it is important for young adults to be wary of some of the consequences of their life online.
Tip 5. Seek out a mentor. Learn from people who have done it before you. At JKCP our internship program gives rising 11th and 12th graders a glimpse inside the professional industry of their choosing. A mentor will give them hands on experience and the opportunity to see if the career is a good fit long term. Learning the ropes from a mentor is imperative for any future and prosperous career. Not only will you learn a skillset needed to succeed, but a good mentor will demonstrate through action what it takes to be an effective leader. This way, instead of debating what you want to study at college when you arrive on campus, hit the ground running.
Just because summer is a great time to relax and have fun, doesn’t justify loafing off. It should be a time of reflection, learning new skills, forming mentorships while solidifying your short term and long- term goals. At JKCP, we have programs to help make the process simple and exciting. Let us set you up with an impactful, rewarding internship. Then, you can look back on that summer with satisfaction knowing you gave it your all.