How to Have a Productive and Fun Summer

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It’s finally summer. And since you know that you only have so many summer vacations left, you’re prioritizing relaxing and reconnecting with friends and family! It’s time to fit in everything that you couldn’t during the school year when you were too busy to even sleep. Now, everything is a little slower paced.

Except, soon enough it’ll be August, and none of your goals will be accomplished. This isn’t to say that you don’t have anything to fill your time now. You probably have a summer job or internship and are visiting old friends. But that doesn’t mean you have no chance of achieving some long-procrastinated goals. The truth is that you can have both, with some careful planning. Summer is the perfect time to have your cake and eat it too. You can read those books you were supposed to in high school (and now realize weren’t just a waste of time), travel somewhere new (so you’ll have something interesting to say to your new roommate), or lose that freshman fifteen (or sophomore 20, we don’t judge).

Write Down Your Goals!

It might seem useless, but writing down your goals makes it more likely that you will achieve them. Writing them down not only shows more commitment than simply envisioning it, but it also ensures that your goals will be SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely). While it’s easy to think things like, “I should read more this summer,” or “I should work out more during the summer, since I don’t have to get up early,” it’s a lot harder to come up with actionable goals. When you’re writing goals down, you’re forced to confront the fact that your goals aren’t very SMART. Instead, you’re more likely to write down something like, “I will read three novels this summer” or “I will work out five days a week for an hour.”

Perhaps most importantly, this will let you know see whether or not you’re overburdening yourself. If you have a goal list 10 pages long for the summer, this might not be a summer vacation, and that’s a priority too!

Plan Trips Ahead of Time

You’ve only got a couple more weeks until the end of summer, but you’re scheduled to work some extra shifts. That’s okay you’ll make some moolah right before the start of the semester — no problem, right? Until your friends call you about an impromptu camping trip, and you’re stuck between scrambling to get your shifts covered or missing out on one last hoorah with your friends.

It’s a crappy situation and one that too many ill-prepared college kids find themselves in. It’s even worse if you’re only in town for the summer because then the pressure is really on to both make money and spend as much time with friends as possible. It’s much easier if you plan out your trips in advance. Obviously, this can’t be a reality in all circumstances, but you should do with as many summer trips as possible.

Also, planning ahead for trips will let you account for your goals! Everyone accounts for work schedule changes, but keep in mind whatever schedule you have built around your goals as well. Of course, it’s not impossible to stay fit while traveling, and learning a language while traveling can be ideal! However, there might be some goals that you have that are more difficult to do, like making money to pay for tuition. Plans you have for those sort of goals might need to be accelerated when you consider travel plans.

Pad Your Resume

If you don’t have a job or internship, there are other valuable ways to gain experience. You can volunteer for various organizations, write for online magazines, or do online classes. The experience you’re looking for will depend on your niche, but this summer doesn’t have to be completely useless. You can use it to get ahead.

With this step in particular, though, make sure that this is an experience you will enjoy. Summer should be at least somewhat relaxing, and no one wants to start fall semester already burnt out. It’s important to pad your resume with experience, but it’s also important to take a moment to enjoy yourself.

Summer shouldn’t be a productivity wasteland, but deciding how productive you want to be is up to you. Some people see this as a great time to get ahead. Others just need to take a month and reset. However, don’t fall into the trap of getting absolutely nothing done. It can be easy to fall into the habit of doing nothing, but accomplishments and experiences will make your summer, not Netflix binging. Focus on the end goals, and you’ll have your best summer yet.

No Internship? No Problem!

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Finals are over.  You’re ready to go home for the summer and enjoy a well-deserved break. You might be enrolled in summer classes (in that case, good luck), but most college students go home for the summer. But after a week or two of catching up with old friends and family, visiting nostalgic parts of your hometown, and Netflixing all day just because you can, you start to wonder: How am I going to make this summer productive?

You may think that the obvious answer is some sort of summer job or internship, which can be really helpful for your future career or just a way to earn some extra cash.  But don’t you have to start planning in March or something to get a good one?  You probably remember one or two friends  who were applying for internships during midterms while you were thinking, “I have so much time left, so no worries . . .” Well, now summer is here.  Internships can be competitive at the undergrad level since most relevant internships require more than a bachelor’s.  Furthermore, if you’ve already procrastinated this much, your shots are slim to none.

However, not all hope is lost!  It does help to plan ahead, but that doesn’t mean that you’re doomed to a completely unproductive summer.

Start Looking Now!

Just because it’s possible to get a late start doesn’t mean that you want to wait forever.  Internships are probably already filled, so you’re better off looking for a job. College tends to get out before high school, so if you’re seeking a traditional summer job (such as waitressing, lifeguarding, or landscaping) to save some money, make sure you find and apply for those jobs before the high school kids.  Also, you only have a couple of weeks to even work this job, so there’s no time to waste.

Make sure you utilize all the tools at your disposal, including online job postings and scanning the town for signs — but you want to mostly rely on connections.  It’s no surprise to anyone that it’s not what you know, but who you know.

Your biggest disadvantage is that you’re probably only looking for summer work, and employers usually don’t want to waste resources training someone who is going to leave anyway.  You’ll be best off targeting jobs that dwindle come fall, like summer tourism jobs, all-day babysitting gigs, or landscaping.

Apply with Consideration

Additionally, you probably know to tailor your resume to every job, but many people completely forget a cover letter.  A cover letter can show that you really put in the extra effort to get to know the company, not to mention that you can form a coherent sentence.  That’ll be an employer’s first impression of you, so make sure that it is on point.  

Even if you have an “in” with some connections, apply anyway.  Doing so shows that you take it seriously and that you are qualified to do the job.  This might not apply if it’s an extremely informal setting, but keep this mind when pursuing jobs through the people you know.  Generally, the farther removed the employer is from you, the more likely you’ll need to submit a formal resume.  You’ll appear much more competent and professional.

Put in the Effort

It can be tempting to check out as the months wear on, especially if this isn’t exactly your dream job.  However, keep in mind that if you do well, you can reapply each year and use this as a potential recurring summer employment or even a first full-time job to help you get on your feet once you graduate.  Having consistent employment, even if it is broken up by periods of school, will show later employers that you were the type of employee to get rehired multiple times.  

Try to focus less on the fact that you’re working and more on the perks that the position gives you.  Working outside lets you enjoy the sun’s rays, waitressing means making a lot of connections, and retail can offer you some great discounts!  School will start up again soon, and you’ll wish that you were back in your summer job in no time.

What if You Can’t Find a Job?

This is a depressing reality for a lot of college students.  Even graduates are having a tough time finding jobs, let alone those still attending.  If you don’t have a diploma yet, it can make it difficult to get a more prestigious job, but minimum-wage jobs might go to high school kids before you.  If you’re stuck in a weird stage of unemployment, but need to save for next year, it’s still not hopeless.

The gig economy has been growing in recent years, and there’s no reason you can’t get in on that too.  Freelance writers, theater techies, musicians, coders, dog walkers . . . You can profit from your efforts during your preferred hours, working whatever jobs you pick.  There is an increased personal responsibility here, but the flexibility is a major perk.  Plus, it can still signal to future employers that you’re not afraid to carve out your own path.  Freelancing requires keeping track of invoices, client needs, and even your taxes.  These are great business skills regardless of your major or future job.

Summer jobs can be grueling, but they add experience to your resume and stop you from becoming an unproductive blob.  There’s nothing wrong with a little vacation, but you can have fun and be productive at the same time (though you may have to cancel your Netflix subscription for that to be truly possible).  Whether your summer jobs help with your career or just get you through to next year, it can be an extremely valuable experience.  

10 Tech Tools Every College Kid Needs

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Slow-running computers with bulky headphones and outdated programs are not going to help you succeed. Having the right kind of technology on your side can make or break you – especially during your first year of college. Whether it’s from making life in the dorms a little bit more bearable, or ramping up your productivity in major ways, these are the tech tools every college kid needs!

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  1. Noise-Canceling Headphones

Picture this: it’s your first night in the dorm rooms. You’re crazy excited, your roommate seems pretty awesome, and your bed is surprisingly comfortable. But as soon as the lights go out, you hear it — the loud, piercing snore of your roommate. What are you going to do? That’s where noise-canceling headphones come in. Whether you’re trying to get some sleep or need a bit of extra concentration while at the library, having the ability to drown out sounds is a blessing in itself.

  1. Productivity Software

We’re all guilty of putting something off to the last minute or falling trap to a Facebook distraction. If you find yourself way behind, check out apps like StayFocused, you can download on your computer that block out social media for certain periods of time or until you complete a task.

 

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  1. Digital Scheduler

Those ugly, plain day planners are out and your phone is in! By switching to a digital scheduler or planner, you can have all the information you need at the touch of your fingers. With so many to choose from, you can find one that matches your style and busy schedule needs. Or you can opt for a basic, no non-sense program like Tomorrow.Do, which gives you a short-term to-do list synced to your devices.

  1. Group Project Organizer

What if it’s not just your day that needs organizing? If you’re working with a group on a project, managing everything and keeping track of who does what or certain milestones can be an even bigger challenge. Set up your group using sharable tech such as Google Drive’s Docs, Sheets, and Presentations. Or, go even higher tech with more options like chatting abilities and project management with free-to-use Evernote or pay-to-use Basecamp.

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Digital Planners have come a long way!

 

  1. Laptop Theft Protection

Laptop thefts are a reality even on the safest of campuses. If you plan to use your expensive computer outside your locked dorm room, arm yourself with a laptop lock. These locks hook into your computer’s USB or charger ports and then has a cable that wraps around a leg of a desk or stationed table. For the lower price, it certainly will give you peace of mind.

  1. Notetaker

Maybe you’re a traditionalist who just loves to get their hands in everything, or maybe you’re a tactile learner who remembers information best when you are scribbling notes down. Either way, using a laptop to take notes is probably not helping you remember that biology lecture any better. That’s where a notetaking pen comes in! These digital pens work with apps on your touchscreen laptop or tablet to give you the real experience of notetaking — just like you did in grade and high school. You’ve got to love apps that make something you love that much better and easier!

 

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4 Ways to Be Productive This Summer

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Now that the World Cup is over, you don’t have to keep up with winning and losing brackets and suddenly your lunch breaks at work are back to their normal boring selves. How will you spend all of your suddenly abundant free time?
1. Update LinkedIn– Make sure your resume, jobs, schooling, and connections are up to date. This will be a huge boost to your visibility on a network that is made to help you build your professional connections and land a job.

2. Look for jobs for next summer– It’s never too early to start looking for jobs. While many that you will come across will not have applications available yet, you can make a list to apply to as they come up. Keeping track of each opportunity and application due-date will save you some serious stress while you’re taking classes and looking for employment.
3. Make a budget and stick to it– A good, balanced budget will help you to save for things you really need during the school year so you won’t have a second thought when you drop your laptop and need to get a new one in time for finals. This is a good way to see where you spend most of your money and help you to cut back on the unnecessary splurges.
4. Volunteer at a local organization that you care about– There’s no way that contributing to the community can be bad. Boost your self-esteem and take the opportunity to meet new people, learn new things, and add a valuable line to your resume. These opportunities may just lead to something a little higher paying than the free labor you’re offering as a volunteer….
Sitting on the couch and lounging by the pool are fun for a while, but they aren’t productive and won’t impress your friends as you are in the dorm swapping stories about your summer. Take these productivity ideas, get ahead, and make your summer count!