5 ways to build your skills this summer

By Paris Close

Summer jobs and internships play an essential part in gaining professional work experience and establishing your reputation. But even if you aren't working this summer, here are five ways you can still build your skills.

1. Polish your resume

It isn’t the most thrilling task on the list, but trust me when I say you’ll be glad you took the time out of your day to rework your resume. You may think your resume is in tip-top shape already I thought the same thing but you’d be surprised at how many of those pesky typos you find when you’re actually scrutinizing your CV.

Nothing turns away prospective employers faster than a lazy resume, so find a quiet space in your home or local library and get crackin’! Think about it this way: doing it now will make you feel stress-free and confident going into interviews for the upcoming school year.

2. Do some traveling

Okay, so this one seems more like a leisure/vacation sort of activity, but something productive can come out of exploring new places, too. Traveling can be fun, but at the same time, it's an eye-opening experience. I guess you could say it’s “spiritually productive."

Taking a trip with a friend, or if you’re not against the Eat, Pray, Love kind of exploring, going alone allows you to find yourself. Whether it’s a town or two over, or in another state, traveling is a liberating experience that truly lets your mind relax and get the creative juices flowing.

3. Learn a new employable skill

By the time I graduated from high school, I was pretty much proficient in Photoshop, thanks to YouTube and a few forums I was bold enough to enter. I didn't even think about the career implications, I just started learning Photoshop because I found it interesting. But much to my surprise, having a good handle on Photoshop was the critical component that landed me a position as editor of my university's newspaper — lucky me!

You never really know what skills will be important to your success in your field, so do some Googling and look into what special skills your job field values. Choose a few to familiarize yourself with, and impress your future employers!

4. Read ahead

You’re probably rolling your eyes at this one, but it’s actually pretty awesome. If you happen to be taking a course that has already released its book list, don’t look at it in horror (although that’s a totally reasonable response) but think about reading them ahead of time.

Think about it this way, if you read ahead now, you’ll have way more free time to party and hang out with friends without that cloud of guilt. Of course I didn’t do this when I was in college, but that’s why I’m telling you — because looking back on it, I totally wish I had! You’ll save yourself a lot more headaches this way, I promise.

5. Take advantage of college perks

Some schools offer amazing perks for their students. For me, it was the unbelievably cheap 25-cent bus rides to the mall and downtown Grand Rapids, which I took full advantage of. The discounts were endless: from museums to shopping centers, and even entertainment venues, too.

Most schools offer at least some amenities to their students as a way to give them a more worldly and fun experience. So whenever you get the chance, visit your college’s website and look into whatever perks your school has to offer.

You can only take advantage of opportunity if you're prepared ... so be prepared to enjoy an awesome summer!

About the author

Paris Close

Paris Close earned his bachelor’s degree in English from Aquinas College in 2014, where he worked as an editor for the college’s newspaper for three years. He is all too familiar with the horrors of final exams, almost being hit by flying lacrosse balls, and making friends with the snooze button. Paris's leading obsessions are Jack Falahee and Jack Falahee’s face and beard, respectively.