Not only did you fill your summer with long productive days on the internship grind, but you were proactive. You made a plan, made connections, and really made your internship count. Now that summer is over and you’re back in school, it might feel like your career journey is heading into a long academic-focused lull. 

Or maybe you didn’t spend your summer in an internship. Maybe you were in summer classes, or taking a well deserved break. No matter what your summer was like, it’s almost all but left you with shortening days and homework-heavy weekends. But just because you’re back in class, that shouldn’t mean that your career journey is getting tossed aside with your summer clothes. There are many ways to keep yourself involved and to balance your course work with some light professional work, and it’s absolutely necessary to do so.

  • If you did do a summer internship, the number one thing for you to do now is to to stay connected. As I wrote in my last  blog “Making the Most of Your Internship,” you should be actively continuing the relationships you built over the summer. Send thank you cards, emails, or phone calls, and keep your mentors and colleagues up to date on your new endeavors. Many people think that keeping in touch is purely transactional (i.e. when you’re looking for a Letter of Recommendation, seeking job advice, etc.) but it is often times more impactful to send a card or email without asking for something--simply to update them on your academic and professional progress, and to keep you in their mind. It’s also also nice to send an email or card around the holidays, after a major accomplishment, or to ask about their work and projects.

  • If possible, continue working with your summer internship organization in some capacity. This may be simply volunteering a few hours a week, just so that you’re still involved in projects. Regardless, follow up and stay updated on the work your organization is doing. 

  • Do independent research projects or community projects through school. These are usually 1-2 unit classes where you do a project with a local organization. This keeps you focused on your career goals, gives you important exposure and experience, and also allows you to gain school credits.

  • Keep track of big events that professionals in your field attend. Many people do internships in places far from their school, so it can be more difficult to stay physically connected to their organizations and connections. A great way to reconnect with some of those individuals is to attend events that they will be attending. Keep track of the important events in your field and try to attend as many as you can. Events are also simply a great way to expose yourself to more jobs and fields. As a starting point, you can look into these upcoming events

  • Pay attention to your school’s career center, career fairs, and other career-focused events on campus and locally. Add your email to your school’s career services listserv and look out for recruitment events coming in the fall.

  • Consulting is another great way to get experience after college. Often times Consulting Firms will have info sessions throughout the fall on college campuses, so take advantage of those opportunities.

  • Finally, keep in mind that internships are offered year round, not just in summer. Research different organizations that you might be interested in, and stay on top of their application deadlines. It is very important to research fellowships and internships early as deadlines are often several months before the start date. For example, most summer internships have application deadlines in the winter and some in late fall, so it is even a good idea to start researching internships for next summer NOW. Go to our Internships and Fellowships page to find an extensive list of internships for both undergrads and graduates. We have a few Fall and Spring Internships with deadlines THIS WEEK, so be sure to check them out today.  

Supplementing your academic life with a variety of professional elements is vital to your authentic career path. Exposing yourself to different events, organizations, and people throughout the year not only builds your resume and network, but it also (and more importantly) gives you an idea of what is out there and what it’s really like being in different work environments. It is one thing to study a field and have an interest in it, but you might not know how much you like or dislike something until you actually put yourself right into a particular job and live it. So this academic year, challenge yourself. Apply to as many things as you can. Attend events and meet other professionals. Keep in touch with your contacts and connections. Be an active part of your own path. 

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