(BPT) - The summer educational break is no excuse to put academic or career ambitions on vacation.
In fact, the traditionally slower months of summer are an ideal opportunity to assess academic and career goals, according to Joe Belliotti, president of Everest Institute-Dearborn in Michigan.
Belliotti offers the following tips to savvy students and young adults looking to take advantage of these summer months and kick-start their academic or career goals.
* Get an internship – An internship is a great way to get an inside glimpse of an industry or a particular occupation, and can help you discover if the career you are considering is right (or wrong) for you. When it’s time to enroll in or return to school, you can draw from your real-world experience for coursework and classroom discussions, which may help distinguish you from your peers. Internships also reflect well on resumes.
* Consider schools with flexible enrollment – Not every school has rigid enrollment dates, and some offer enrollment year-round. For example, some of the Everest courses are in modules, with new classes beginning nearly every month.
“Why put your education on hold when you don’t have to?” Belliotti says. “For instance, most of Everest-Dearborn’s programs can be completed in less than a year – by the time the enrollment period rolls around at other schools, you could be on your way to a diploma and embarking on a new career.”
* Polish your people skills – Summertime is a wonderful opportunity to brush up on “soft” skills like networking and interviewing, which aren’t normally taught in the classroom. In fact, a poll by Everest Institute revealed that 40 percent of young adults believe interviewing is the one skill they need to improve most to help land a job. Belliotti suggests practicing mock interviews with friends and family – or even in front of a mirror.
* Maximize your resources – Use this in-between time to learn as much as you can about your potential career field using all the resources around you – whether you use books, online research or face-to-face meetings with people in your desired field.
Belliotti suggests attending networking functions to hear insider advice from other professionals – in particular, what they wish they had known or had done differently at the start of their career.
In addition, if you’re considering further education, visit campuses and speak with students about their studies and curriculum. This will give you a better sense of the coursework, student-faculty relationships and extracurricular opportunities at a particular institution.
“Going back to school is a major undertaking, but it doesn’t have to disrupt your life,” Belliotti says. “The period before enrolling or returning to school can be invaluable to take inventory of your life and adjust your work and family responsibilities to better focus on your studies once school begins.”