For college students, summer is simply a break from lecture halls and overpriced textbooks. It’s not a break from working hard, adding sections to your resume, and building on skills learned in the classroom. However, deciding on the best way to spend your summer can be overwhelming and challenging. The location, skill set, dates of a job, and pay rate all contribute to a decision that can take months. Students often worry about getting a reputable internship that’ll make them stand out on in a pile of job applications in the future. However, there are several other ways to have a productive summer besides nailing that elusive internship.

Job In Your Hometown 

Whether it’s a local coffee shop, Barnes & Noble, or your Mom’s office, a job in your hometown is always a viable option. You’ll make some pocket cash along the way and most certainly pick up soft skills. Often overlooked, soft skills are the foundation to being successful everywhere, not just on the job. The things you learn by just having a job will translate into your personal life, academic projects, and personal relationships. These skills will undeniably look great on a resume and serve as a solid foundation for more (and better!) opportunities in the future. Company websites as well as personal relationships with people at home are great ways to start looking for these local opportunities.

Stay In School

School isn’t always out for the summer. Your college, university, or local community college will offer summer classes that may count towards your degree. Students will often take summer classes to either graduate early or save money on their tuition bill. But don’t just take classes, look into research opportunities with a professor or on campus organization. Many organizations use the summer to prepare for the upcoming school year and do so in a more relaxed atmosphere due to the absence of (most) students. Syracuse University has a site specifically for job opportunities. To connect with a professor, look at a staff/faculty directory and contact them based  upon your interests and skill set. At the very least, you’ll make a professional connection that can only benefit you in the longrun.

Teach Yourself Something

Use the time off from school to learn things that aren’t taught in a classroom. Whether it’s learning a new coding language or playing around with your computer settings to learn about functionality, go for it. There are online learning resources that can guide you as you learn new things. Recruiters love someone who shows initiative by teaching themselves outside of the classroom. That motivation will not only teach you, but will show others your drive. Nothing is more valuable than someone who can create their own learning path and stick to it.

Work On Your Own Project

Who says you need a boss? It’s acceptable to set your own goals for the summer and work towards them. Summer is the perfect time to polish up your resume, rewrite your cover letter, make a website, and create your own personal brand. Perhaps you’ve always had a cool idea but have never had the time to flesh it out. The summer is a great opportunity to work on the idea without the distraction of classes and extracurriculars. The summer months are also a great time to try new things, advance current skills, and experiment with the combination of the two. With you as your own boss, you’re in control of your work load and schedule. Take advantage of the control and work at your own pace to develop something worth showing off to friends.

Although internships are a great way to spend the summer, there are certainly other opportunities that can help you along your career path. Whether it’s a local job, taking more classes, or being your own project manager, there are several ways to propel the work and learning ethic of the school year into the summer months.

What are you plans for the summer break? Share with us in the comments below!