Career Strategy Fellowships Study Abroad Summer Session CAREER LINK

Make the Most of your Summer Experience

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Whether you are taking part in an internship, research, a job trek of any length, a summer job, or other experience, you can enhance your professional development by setting goals, consistent reflection, and networking.

Before you Start: Set Goals

Take time to reflect on your upcoming experience: why did you choose it, what do you want to get from it? Think about the specific hard (e.g. coding, excel) and soft (e.g. communication, presenting) skills and knowledge you hope to come away with.  Then consider how you can achieve these goals and evaluate your progress with your supervisor. To do this, it may be helpful to use a Learning Plan.  This is an easy way to identify and visualize your goals and assess where you are in the process.

Tip: Use the Office of Career Strategy’s Learning Plan as a guide.

Reflecting and Taking Notes

Whether your experience is a two days, three months, or a year, check in with yourself periodically to see where you are in your goals.  It is important to remember that the goals you have set for yourself can be edited and added to throughout the experience.  You can reflect by keeping daily or weekly notes. Consider some of the following prompts (adapted from Mary A. King and H. Frederick Sweitzer, The Successful Internship):

  • How has your work changed since you first started?
  • What do you think is your main contribution to the site?
  • Has the experience to date been rewarding? Why or why not?
  • What new soft/hard skills have you learned since the beginning of the experience, and how might they help you?
  • Has the experience made you think about possible careers in this field? Another field?
  • What feedback did you receive today or this week and how did it make you feel?
  • What are some of the advantages/disadvantages of working in this field?
  • What have you learned about yourself so far?
  • Has your daily routine changed? How?

You may also wish to write down key phrases you've learned relating to the industry or job function, the contact information of people you meet, and accomplishments and anecdotes you want to remember for future interviews or networking opportunities.

Considering Transferrable Skills

For any experience you participate in, identify what skills and/or knowledge you are acquiring and how they may be used in further professional experiences, and how they can transfer to a different industry or job function. Remember to update your resume and LinkedIn as you progress through the experience.  Review our Resume & Cover Letters page to see a variety of templates and a list of sample resume action verbs, as well as our Professional Online Identity page for tips on updating your LinkedIn.

Networking

Connecting with professionals and alumni in your field of interest can also enhance your experience.  It enables you to learn about different careers, organizations and job opportunities. It is not simply acquiring business cards – it is taking the time to get to know people in the areas of interest and staying in touch throughout your career. Additionally, through networking you will uncover job opportunities that might not be posted or create an opportunity that did not previously exist. Read more about Networking and Informational Interviewing.

Tip: Remember to use the Yale Career Network as a place to start!  You can even sign up for some Yale Club listservs to be up-to-date on activities happening with local alumni in the area.

Approaching Issues

If you find that you have questions or concerns during your experience, it is important to address them professionally and in a timely manner. Most often, any issues that may arise are easily settled by speaking with a supervisor to share your experience or thoughts, and to coordinate together how the issued may be addressed that works for both you and the organization. It is most important to connect with the Office of Career Strategy as soon as possible if you feel that you’d like to address something in your experience and have questions on how to approach this. Before speaking with a career strategy advisor or your supervisor, consider the following (adapted from Mary A. King and H. Frederick Sweitzer, The Successful Internship):

  1. What is the problem?
  2. What do I know about the problem so far?
  3. What is my goal?
  4. What are the alternatives for reaching that goal?
  5. What is my plan of action?

Connecting with the Office of Career Strategy

While you’re in the midst of your experience, remember that the Office of Career Strategy is open and ready to assist you.  If you’d like to speak with an advisor while you’re participating in a summer internship, job trek, research experience, etc., please don't hesitate to schedule an appointment.  Be sure include your phone number in your appointment request if you are not on campus for the appointment (all Yale Career Link appointment times are in EST).