4 Steps to Owning Your Professional Development During Your Summer Break


Summer break is quickly approaching! It’s no secret that you’ve been working hard to succeed inside the classroom and outside as well, so we hope you are preparing for a relaxing, and productive upcoming summer.

You can develop professionally no matter what you’re doing this summer. Below are some tips that can help you make professional strides during your summer break from Columbia:

1.) Explore Your Interests

You may have some downtime in the summer to begin thinking about your interests, career-related or not.

  • Take some time to reflect on what you’ve accomplished this year; what did you enjoy the most – what are your favorite activities and classes?
  • Try some of the exercises in the Explore section of our Career Planning Guide to help you identify your interests and values. Also, check out the Columbia College Journey reflection tool to guide your exploration. 
  • Connect your interests and values to careers and fields of study.
  • Look through tools such as Vault to discover more about organizations and industries.
  • Start learning about specific industries through our industry exploration pages.

2.) Develop Your Skillset

You may have secured a summer internship, research position, part-time job, or a volunteer opportunity for this upcoming summer. Now is a great time to understand what skills you need to have in the future, and what skills you’d like to develop. Try to make it a priority to speak with a co-worker or supervisor on how you can gain experience in specific areas that will better prepare you later on. This could mean strengthening your oral communication skills, teamwork and collaboration skills, or increasing your technological literacy. You can also figure out what skills you have by working on the skills activity in the Career Planning Guide.

If you don’t have a structured plan for the summer, think about what you want to learn or skills you can develop outside the classroom through volunteering, personal projects or online course through Lynda, Udacity, or Coursera. You may still find an internship; new positions are posted daily in LionSHARE.

Be open to opportunities at home too. Tell everyone you know that you’d like to work this summer and ask them to keep you in mind. Don’t forget high school teachers, friends of the family, your friends’ parents etc.

3.) Identify Opportunities TO GROW YOUR NETWORK

You may be meeting many new people this summer and you’ll want to stay in touch with them afterward. Set a goal of connecting with one to three people over the summer through informational interviewing so you can learn more about their positions and career path. You never know where these conversations will lead you down the road. Informational interviewing may not feel like stereotypical networking, but it is an effective way to network!

You can review the networking section of our Career Planning Guide for tips on informational interviewing.

4.) Make a Plan for the Upcoming Year

As you may remember from this past fall, the academic year starts very quickly and as soon as you know it, your calendar will be booked! You can spend some time over the summer coming up with a game plan for your next year.

If you are hoping to find an internship during the year or for next summer, search LionSHARE for internship positions.

CCE Is Open All Summer

If you are not sure when positions you are interested in will be available on LionSHARE or how to prepare, you can schedule a 30-minute session with a CCE counselor via LionSHARE. We are open all summer and even if you’re not in New York City, we can hold career counseling sessions virtually or over the phone. 

We’re here to support you throughout your time at Columbia and beyond!