The Summer of Goals: How to Spend Your Vacation Wisely

The Summer of Goals: How to Spend Your Vacation Wisely
The Summer of Goals: How to Spend Your Vacation Wisely
For the K-12 set, summer vacation means pool and beach time, family vacations, sleeping late, the absence of routine and maybe a laid-back summer job at a camp or the grocery store. But for college students, summers can quickly turn into study abroad opportunities, internships, and research apprenticeships on campus. You’ll still have lots of time for relaxation and socializing with friends and family, but the summer break is also a key time to spend thinking about your future and the short- and long-term goals you’ll need to set in order to get there. As you enjoy the less frenzied pace of summer, take time to brainstorm, because once school starts again, your deadline-oriented schedule will leave you with less free time to map out goals.

Even if you’re busy this summer, your commitments are probably short-term and less stressful and demanding than your classwork and extracurriculars during the school year. Take advantage of the slower pace to indulge in fantasies about your dream job or about the kinds of adventures you want to pursue while you still can. Whether it’s for your own personal benefit or to start your career journey, this freedom to brainstorm and think big is actually the first step to the practical goal-setting process. Once you’ve played around with some ideas for your immediate or long-term future, you can start writing down ideas for how to make them come true.

Start by listing the milestones you’ll have to reach to realize your goal, and then fill in each heading with detailed to-dos that will take you from step to step. For example, if you want to work abroad after graduation, your milestones might be that you have to learn a new language and of course graduate. Smaller goals that will help you get to those milestones include broadening your network, getting a work visa, talking to other students who have worked abroad, and learning about the marketplace and economy of the country in which you want to work.

Besides having more time to organize short- and long-term goals, the summer affords you more networking opportunities. While the return to school and a regular schedule usually means more organized networking events sponsored by your school or in the community, more intimate — and possibly more effective — connections exist during the summertime. It’s probably going to be up to you to initiate contact with professors, professionals, parents’ friends, office mates during your internship, professional organizations, and others who you think can help you achieve your goals and learn more about your chosen field. In the form of informational interviews or even relaxed discussions over coffee, your one-on-one time with these individuals may help you more than a career fair or formal networking event during the semester. And if you are living away from school during the summer — even if you’re just back at your parents’ house — take advantage of the new location to tap a different network than the one you’re always around during the semester.

Summer is the time for experimentation, exploration and relaxation, but it doesn’t have to be a waste of time. Use your vacation to dream big and then work out the details and broaden your network so that when it’s time to head back to campus, you’re ready to realize your goals.
http://www.onlinecolleges.net/2010/06/

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