As you navigate through your career you will soon learn how to make professional connections. Those connections will allow you to collaborate with colleagues, mentor and be mentored, and assist as you navigate through your career.  As a rule of thumb, you never want to burn bridges.  You will learn that your industry, especially within your city and state can be a very close-knit community and you never know if you will cross paths with someone later down the line.   

As you progress as a professional, you will need to apply for internships, scholarships, membership into organizations, applying for graduate school, and seeking professional positions.  One of the things that you may need is a letter of recommendation.  Letters of recommendations will help you distinguish you from other applicants.  The letter will allow readers to paint a picture of who you are and what you have done or accomplished. 

One of the very first professional connections you will establish will be the person(s) you seek for a letter of recommendation.  If you have already identified a mentor, you may already have someone that you are comfortable with and can easily approach to assist you. If you do not have mentor and are unsure who to approach you may have to put more thought into your request.

If you are nervous or unsure who to approach, here are a few things to consider. 

1.       Update or create your resume.  Highlight your accomplishments, what you have done, and you are at a glance. Provide your resume when making the request so the person can refer to your accomplishments in the recommendation. 

2.       Identify a potential list of people to ask.  You may need 3 or more letters of recommendation and they may be required for different reasons.  One to speak on your work experience, one referencing your community service, and one that can speak to your educational aptitude. Consider coaches, professors, counselors and advisors, colleagues, classmates, and former supervisors.

3.       Ensure your recommender can speak to your skills and will have positive things to say.  You do not want to enlist the help of someone that has negative things to say about you, your work ethic, and your ability to succeed in the new capacity you are applying for.  

4.       Provide enough time for the recommendation to be completed. Provide ample time for the recommendation to be completed. 

5.       Know the requirements for the letter.  Make sure you know the required length, if there are specific questions or information that should be included. 

6.       Know the deadline and how recommendation should be submitted.  Some applications will require online submission while others will need to be physically mailed.   

7.       Be prepared to write your own letter.  Some people may need your guidance and for you to jumpstart the letter and they will adjust and add to suite their needs.

8.       Be prepared to hear “no”.  You may select someone that does not feel comfortable completing the recommendation.  The person may not have time or be able to meet your deadline.  The person may not know you well enough.

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Did the fall semester get past you? Were there things that you wanted to do, but did not have the opportunity to complete?  Did you learn about opportunities or organizations when it was too far into the semester?  Spring semester provides another chance to get involved and take advantage of the opportunities you missed in the fall semester.  Each semester offers new opportunities to engage and try new things. If there are things you were unable to accomplish, participate in, or finish, use the new semester as a fresh start. 

Each semester also offers a new opportunity for change.  There will be students who change universities, graduate from school, or rearrange responsibilities due to schedule demands.  These changes will provide possible new opportunities for jobs, involvement, and exposure.  So, do not be afraid to ask about a vacancy, seek membership, or dive deeper into new found passions.

Here are a few ways you can get involved:

1.       Attend Rush and learn more about Greek Life on campus.

2.       Visit the Work-Study office for possible jobs

3.       Go to an organization fair and see what options are available on campus.

4.       Talk to a professor or your advisor about opportunities to get involved in the department.

5.       Reach out to a classmate that is already involved and learn about any upcoming opportunities.

6.       Consider local government and run for a position in your classes election.  Help with someone else’s campaign or serve as an election judge.

7.       Apply to be an RA for the fall semester. Applications are due early spring semester and may require a 2 or 3 step interview process.

8.       Read posters and flyers on campus for possible information about events and opportunities.

It’s almost here-Summer break! The long awaited break from all those books, papers, and classes is just around the corner. As tempting as it may be to kick back and relax all summer long, you’ll probably find that after a week or two doing nothing gets really boring. This is why summer can actually be one of the most important times in a college student’s life! This is where you get to explore who you are outside of school, and sometimes even away from home!

Deciding what you want to do all summer can be a hard task. Maybe you have a job waiting for you back home, and you plan to make a little extra cash to get you through next year. Maybe your family wants to take a vacation to the middle of nowhere for a few weeks. Or maybe you’re one of those stellar freshmen who have already managed to line up an internship! Whatever you plan to spend the summer doing, there are a couple things to keep in mind for making the most of your summer!

First, vacations will mess up the timeline for just about anything else. It can be really hard to get a job or internship when you already know that you’ll be missing a set amount of time, but you don’t know when. For this reason, convince your parents to set dates for vacation well in advance. You can still take the time to spend time with your family, but you’ll also have a much easier time finding employment when you already know when you won’t be able to work. To make it extra easy, try to schedule vacations for the very beginning or very end of summer. You’ll be able to schedule your job around the vacation, instead of trying to get time off.

Second, internships are only as helpful as you make them. Everyone says internships will make or break your future career, and in some ways that’s accurate. However, it really depends on what field you’re going into, what internship you get, and how much time you spend there. For instance, if you’re an accounting major and you get an internship at a movie studio doing set work, that’s not going to be very helpful when you apply to major accounting firms. If you go home and work the books for a small local store, that’s going to be a lot more specialized experience, even though it isn’t an internship or with a really big, famous company.

Whatever you do this summer, keep in mind that you still have a few more summers to make the most of your college experience. If you plan things right, by the time you get out of college you’ll have a wealth of work experience and educational opportunities (like study abroad) to show exactly how much effort you put into getting ahead. By graduation, you’ll be a summer break pro!

Summer is officially in full swing.  It is now time to soak up some sun and save up some funds.  Summer is a great time to work as much as you can and also save as much as you can for the upcoming semester.  There apart are two challenges of the summer job; finding the job and passing up social opportunities. 

May is the best time to search for a summer job as, it provides more than enough time for the interview, drug screening, and your transition back home. Don’t fret, because it is June!  There are still plenty of opportunities out there. You are going to have to look a little harder, be more creative and be more aggressive.  A job will not just fall into your lap.  Approach every avenue you can and look for possible opportunities.  The best positions during the summer are those that are related to your major and career path and seasonal positions designed especially for the summer.

Choosing a position within your major or career path will allow you the opportunity to get hands on experience and learn the day-to-day operations of the position.  Having an opportunity like this will require you to reach out to a number of offices and sell yourself.  Positions like this may not be posted, may be found through word of mouth, or they may need to be created.  You may also have to volunteer.  Ideally you want to get paid for the work that you complete; however sometimes gaining the experience is far more valuable than earning a check.  Also look at your credit requirements, as you may be able to use the experience towards class or internship credit. 

Seasonal summer positions are always great for students, because they are designed just for the summer and students need work just for the summer. Look at local YMCAs for day camp programs, explore the local ice cream parlor, and even look at local kid hangouts.  Working at a camp is a great options as there are a variety of camps; including religious, sports, academic, and special interest.  Research and see what is offered in your area, local parks and recreation centers, and colleges.

Once you start working, you should approach each pay check as an opportunity to save for the upcoming year.  Each semester you will need money for books, food, and other responsibilities.  Learning to save now and live on a strict budget will teach you discipline and will help you later in life.  If the item or venture is not a necessity and you can live without it, you should consider forgoing it.  Starting the semester with as much money as possible should be your goal each semester.  You want to ensure you have all of your needs met throughout the semester and not have to scramble each month to pay your cell phone bill.  Some students are able to work during the summer and winter break so they do not have to work during the semester. Others have to pay their way through school or contribute to the rising costs of tuition.  Working during the summer with an end goal in mind will help you stay on track.  Write out a list of goals, so you know what you are aiming for and what you will need to do to achieve the financial goal.  If you don’t already have one, be sure you open a savings account to help you stay focused and not spend. 

Summer is a great time to relax and enjoy not having classes, papers, and assignments. It is also a good time to work and prepare for the year ahead.  Taking a few days to yourself at the end of the semester is suggested.  It allows you an opportunity to regroup and have some down time.  After a few days, you should implement your plan and start preparing for what is in-store next. If you work hard now you will have the opportunity to play hard later. 

School is out and the first few days at home are great! Your parents are happy to have you home and you are enjoying taking a break from classes.  As the weeks go on, the patience of you and your parents will be challenged.  It is important to understand where the both of you stand on certain topics and mutually agree on house rules. 

As a student that finished your freshman year, you have to keep in mind that a little under a year ago you were still at home and not the independent person you are today.  Your parents have to also understand that you have been on your own for almost a year.  You may have some new thoughts and new habits they may not be accustom to or agree with.

When going home, be sure you understand and respect the rules in your parent’s house.  You will want to verify certain things like curfew, dinner expectations, cleanliness, and having guest visit. Be sure you ask questions on these topics before you engage in the activities that will cause stress and strain on you and your parent’s relationship.

It is also good to communicate what you have on your agenda. Do you plan to work during the summer? Are you going to go and visit friends? Will you take classes? Do you want to travel? These are all things you have to ask yourself and communicate clearly with your parents.  Being home is exciting and gives you the opportunity to see family and friends from high school. Be sure you are spreading your time evenly among all those that will want your attention. Give time to younger siblings, pets, and grandparents.  Look for moments to bring old and new friends together at the same time.  Spend time with just your parents and let them reconnect with you. 

Finding balance is the most important part of transitioning home for the summer. Communicating your goals for the summer and learning the goals of everyone else will help you to develop a plan and schedule to accomplish everything on your list.  Remember that some of the things that you were able to do while on campus, you will not be able to do while at home.  You have to respect the rules in place and not challenge the authority of your parents.  Three months of summer will go by fast and will be a short sacrifice for the peace that will be achieved by respecting your parent’s wishes and communicating with them.  School is out for the summer, now go on and enjoy.  

The summer is finally here!!! Making it through your first year is a major accomplishment and although you still have a ways to go, take pride in what you have accomplished thus far.  Summer is a great time to rest and rejuvenate for the next year.  This is a great time to reflect on the past year.  Ask yourself, what where your highs this year, yours lows, what did you miss out on accomplishing, what did you not get to, and how would you do things differently.  After you have answered these questions, you are ready to map out your sophomore year.  Each year in college is truly what you make it.  If you take the time to reflect and navigate your path, you will see opportunities for growth and seize those moments to be the best you can be.  Each semester (and year) you should have a set of goals and at the end of the semester (and year) you should take stock and see where you are in accomplishing each of those goals.  Take pride in the goals you have accomplished and refocus the goals you were not able to complete.  If you need to adjust your goals, by adding to them or taking away from them do so. The important factor is not giving up on your goals or revisiting them often to remind yourself why you work so hard and to keep you focused.

Summer also provides a great opportunity for you to take your college career to the next level.  You can use this time to enroll in summer classes, spend time developing yourself at an internship, get a summer job, and even study abroad. Twelve weeks is not really a long time.  If you wait too long to plan or get involved the summer will pass you by and nothing will be completed. The optimal time to prepare for summer is April, but there are still plenty of great opportunities that will be available in May and June, which is why you must act fast and not waste any time.  Summer classes are typically offered in two or three sessions.  Choose classes that are general requirements and will transfer easily or classes that will help prepare you for a more challenging course you have next semester. Many businesses would love to have students (who want to join the profession) donate their time.  However having someone for only four weeks is not as helpful as ten to twelve weeks. This same rule applies to a summer job.  An employer will be more likely to dedicate time, resources and energy to an employee who will be with the company for three months versus one month.  Utilize previous employment, parents, and friends to locate potential opportunities.  If you have the opportunity to travel abroad, seize it! There are many opportunities to learn take classes, volunteer, and immerse yourself into another culture. These experiences provide life lessons that will expand past information learned in the classroom.

Summer is a great time to sit back and just relax, however forgoing relaxation now and investing in your future will help you further along in your career.  There will be plenty of time to relax once you have graduated and are in your career.  Use the summer to reflect, set new goals, and prepare for the next semester. Summer is the time to prepare for the next stage in your life, if you do not use the time wisely you may not achieve the goals you have outlined for yourself.  Enjoy the summer and congrats on being a Sophomore!

I see dollar signs.  As we wrap up the final few weeks of the Spring semester, most people think of finals, moving out of the residence halls, scheduling classes for next semester, graduation, and summer fun.  I agree I too think of these things but with all of these changes comes the idea of MONEY!!!!

As students prepare to graduate, for next semester, or for the summer there could be a possible change in their employment. Now is a good time to visit your favorite on-campus departments, offices, or eateries.  Inquire about any potential job openings that may be opening up during the summer or for next school year. Another option is to check the student employment website or office (sometimes located within the Financial Aid Office) to see if anything has become available. The summers along with graduations often result in hundreds and thousands of students fleeing back home. However, it will also mean students away at school fleeing back home where your school is located.  Start early by putting in applications and stopping by local establishments letting them know you are looking for employment.

Most businesses welcome college students, because they know students have a unique background, varying knowledge, and have relatively low needs. However, be sure to accurately sell yourself. Treat each interaction as an interview; sometimes stopping by results with an on-the-spot interview. Pay extra attention to your appearance, your presentation (application, resume, interview), and your overall professionalism.  Although you may be a low maintenance employee you do not want to come across as a liability.  Employers want someone who appears to be mature, serious, and long term.

This is the time to buckle down and focus on finishing the semester strong, but it is also the time to get an early start on employment for the summer and the Fall semester. Use this time wisely and avoid the rush.

You’re probably thinking to yourself–WHY DO I NEED TO WORRY ABOUT MY RESUME? I’M ONLY A FRESHMAN! See, it’s better to start early and continuously work on it, versus rushing as a senior and forgetting what you’ve done in college.

As a freshman, unless you are applying for a full internship, don’t worry about a resume setup just yet. It is wise, however, to start making a list of all of the jobs you’ve held, descriptions of what you’ve done in those positions, and the dates in which you held them. Also, it is never too early to start collecting reference letters or just a list of references. Make sure that the people you pick can speak highly of you and accentuate whatever characteristics you want to promote for a specific job or career.

Check out your career services center now. They are very resourceful and will definitely help you along the way.