Career Corner: Using Summer Wisely

Career Corner: Using Summer Wisely

The summer is upon us.  Life naturally takes on a different rhythm during this season. The days are longer, and this frequently leads to a burst of energy in the evening. We also tend to socialize more, often around holidays like Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day (at least in the U.S.). There are friends and family that we only see during this time of year. And, of course, many of us try to pack in vacation during the summer.

David J Smith — career coach, author, and Fulbrighter

The hiring process tends to be slower in the summer. With organizational fiscal years often starting in the fall (the U.S. federal government fiscal year starts October 1), summer is a time when planning is the priority.  As such, making major decisions on hiring staff is something that is kicked backed until the fall.  In addition, vacation impedes hiring in several ways. Human resources managers take off, but more importantly, hiring committees might have a difficult time getting together because of vacation. For instance, if you are thinking about a career in a college or university in a research or teaching position, getting hired in the summer is unlikely since faculty are off.  Generally, decisions about hiring in academia have been made by late spring. Overall fewer jobs are listed, and for open positions, the recruitment process can be very slow.

As such, summer planning might be better than summer applying. Use the summer months to engage in those activities that require engagement with others (it’s really the best time of the year to be networking) and do those things that improve your overall well-being and fortify you for a fall career campaign.

Here are a couple of suggestions:

  1. Attend events, both professional and social ones. The summer is packed with parties and receptions, some personal and some work related. Summer is no time to be a wallflower. Commit to being in as many “spaces” as you can (meaningful ones, of course). Summer is prime networking season.
  2. Engage in healthy and connective activities. Take advantage of the better weather to see to your physical and psychological health: hike, camp, swim, eat well, and sleep in when you can.  Also, connect with friends, colleagues, and family through events and one on one get-togethers. Often during the hustle and bustle of the year, we lose track of friends or colleagues.  Why not have coffee now, especially when you can have your iced latte outside?
  3. Develop a strategic plan for the fall. Now is the time to think and plan.  Make lists and collect your thoughts on how you will go about looking for work in the fall.  Planning to find work is looking for work!  The better planning you do now, the better the execution in the fall. You can line up informational interviews and put in applications in September, plan conferences to attend in October (like the Fulbright Association conference in DC in October), and focus on interviewing in November and December. Of course, your plans might change, but having a plan of action that you can put in motion in early September will lessen your anxiety about looking for work, and make the process more efficient.
  4. Make space for quiet time. Networking and even planning can be exhausting. The summer is a good time to do nothing! Studies show the benefits of disengagement with others and work (and social media). This disengagement and “nothingness” offers some mental rest and promotes creativity.
  5. Finally, take a vacation. Though there are other times of the year when vacation takes place, the summer allows for outside and physical activities. The beach or the mountains, makes no difference, getting out may be the best means of improving your mental health and wellness. If you don’t, once the fall comes, you might regret it.

Enjoy your summertime! Use the time to renew your commitments, think big and envision your future. But also connect with your humanity.

—David J. Smith

David J. Smith (Fulbright Scholar, Estonia 2003-2004) is a career coach and the author of Peace Jobs: A Student’s Guide to Starting a Career Working for Peace (Information Age Publishing 2016). He is on the career advisory board of the Peace and Collaborative Development Network. David writes regularly on career issues at davidjsmithconsulting.com. He can reached at davidjsmith@davidjsmithconsulting.com.

 

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