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7 Tips to Make the Most of the Summer Break

“What are you doing this summer?”

If you are a high school student, you likely hear this question from teachers, classmates, and family, and it may simultaneously annoy and intrigue you. While the lure of sleeping late and playing video games may be tempting, securing a summer experience and having time for rest and leisure will balance your free time. Summertime presents opportunities to explore employment, outside interests and hobbies, to volunteer, and to shadow professionals. The following tips include a summary of typical summer activities and advice for finding “something to do” with your free time.

Tip #1 - Create a resume: 

To prepare for your search, create a one-page document listing your name, email address, and phone number, high school, and school and community clubs and activities. If applicable, include any honors and achievements you’ve earned as a high school student. For design ideas, you can find many templates online. The resume serves as your introduction to potential employers and volunteer supervisors, and confirms your motivation and maturity. 

Tip #2 - Manage your cell phone and computer:

Make it a habit to check your personal email inbox and to set up voicemail on your phone to manage your messages, and respond promptly to prospective employers or volunteer sites. Proofread your messages before sending. Clear your browser cookies to make sure that you can access online applications, and use Google Chrome.

"Securing a summer experience and having time for rest and leisure will balance your free time."

Tip #3 - Search for Employment:

Apply for working papers at your high school. Don’t wait until the last week of school to obtain an application. Fast food establishments, restaurants, supermarkets, retail stores, camps, and libraries may have opportunities for high school students. Typically, jobs expand for students 16 and older. It can be advantageous to inquire in-person about any available positions – it demonstrates initiative and an eagerness to work.

Tip #4 - Volunteer:

Community food banks, hospitals, libraries, older adult residences, local politicians’ offices, and animal shelters often accept high school students as volunteers. Again, you should inquire by phone or in-person regarding availability. With any online inquiry forms, a follow-up phone call can highlight your application and show your desire to volunteer.

Tip #5 - Shadow a professional:

Are you interested in a particular career? First of all, see if anyone within your network of teachers, school counselors, family, and friends can introduce you to a working professional. If not, use your Google search skills to look for professionals in your area. Send a brief, polite email message to request a shadowing period (typically shadowing experiences range from one day to a week), and include your resume as an attachment.  

Tip #6 - Pursue an interest:

 Do you want to learn a new language? Or play the ukulele? You can use this time to explore a new interest in depth on your own. With the plethora of free online classes, you can develop skills in any area. Keep in mind that independent learning requires discipline and time management. Make a schedule and set SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound). Don’t forget to add this new skill to your resume!

Tip #7 - Expand family responsibilities:

Do you know how to do laundry? Prepare healthy dinners for your family? Perhaps you can read every evening to a younger sibling or regularly visit a grandparent. You can even use Zoom if you have relatives who would appreciate virtual visits. Life skills such as laundry, cooking, housekeeping, and child and older adult care enhance your resume as a responsible and caring person. Parents: this is a great way to engage with your child and help prepare them for more independence as they gear up for college. For more helpful tips for parents to be involved (but not too involved) in prepping for college, see our article here

Students, we hope the next time someone asks “What are you doing this summer?” you’ll be excited to share your plan with these 7 tips. Good luck and enjoy! 

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