While there’s no better feeling than being on summer break, it’s safe to say that adjusting back to being a student this fall won’t be easy. In this video blog, Colleen Borian acknowledges that start-of-semester scaries are a real thing and with COVID-19 changing how our semesters will look, they will be more real than ever. Watch her vlog below!
There’s no better feeling than the relief of finals being over, the comfort of spending time with friends and family, and knowing there is no possibility you could be forgetting about an assignment for class over the break. Between celebrating traditions, being able to sleep in, and having an excuse to make yourself a guest in your own home, it’s safe to say adjusting to the “back home baller” lifestyle is one we all look forward to.
Once the excitement of the holidays dwindles down and the new year is rung in, the start-of-semester scaries are a real thing. It may seem hard to get ahead in school before you have any assignments, but by taking the time to do a few things to prepare will ease the stress of being thrown back into reality.
Establish Email Inbox Ease
Take the time to clear out your inbox and update your email organization system. While I liked to think my color-coded, folder-filled inbox is tidy, I realized I still had emails from professors about classes I took two years ago. Deleting unnecessary emails makes searches easier and can create a less overwhelming feel. Don’t have your inbox organized? No worries – take time to create some folders, labels, or develop a system that you can start to utilize during the semester.
Clear Up Your Computer
Regardless of how neat and ordered your files and documents were at the beginning of last semester, it is safe to say by the end the system was a bit unorganized. Take some time to delete any old files or back them up if you may need them in the future. I like to do this, as well as create folders for my upcoming classes, so I can get right to work once class starts. This is also a great time to clean up your phone. Backup or upload your photos, then delete apps and pictures that do not serve any purpose. Not only will clearing up documents and photos prevent the dreaded “out of storage” warnings, but it can allow you to move on from the previous semester’s stress.
Schedule Around Your Syllabus
As soon as you know your class schedule, you can plug that into your preferred system of organization. I use a digital calendar to track where I need to be and when, so I am planning on putting in all of my class times before the semester begins. If your professor uploads the syllabus early, take some time to jot down any assignment due dates. I do this in a physical planner, and I always feel better when I start the semester knowing where I need to be and when.
One of the best parts of winter break is the joy of not worrying about having to do work, but completing these small tasks can make a big difference when syllabus week ends and reality kicks in. These are perfect to do while watching a movie, hanging out with family, and even provide a great excuse to go to your favorite hometown coffee spot with friends!
As college students, it is overwhelming enough to keep up with academics, extracurriculars, a social life, and if we’re lucky, a normal sleep schedule. All of these things are important and part of every student’s experience but there’s one thing a lot of us neglect to think about until it becomes inevitable – the job search. For students in the first half of their college career, graduating and getting a job seems light years away, until they blink and the nights with friends are traded for nights nitpicking every detail on their resume. I may or may not be speaking from personal experience, but whether late-night LinkedIn stalking scored you an internship or not, there’s no better time than the summer to be proactive in the professional world.
By taking the time to build your career network and update your resume or portfolio, you’ll have one less thing on your plate during the academic year and hopefully won’t have to turn down another Bravo watch party with your friends.
First things first, what exactly is networking?
I was embarrassed to have this question considering how often I hear this word but I have learned it is more than what we typically think of. Per definition, to network is to “interact with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts.” Seems easy enough, right? Not exactly. It’s important to remember that while networking is about exchanging information and developing relationships, it’s also about maintaining those relationships. Developing and maintaining relationships of any capacity takes time and maintenance and it is not a “once and done” interaction.
Building a personal strategy
To get the most out of networking, it starts with yourself. Start with taking some time to update your resume and LinkedIn with all of your accomplishments. I am hoping to go into a more creative field, and I plan to use this summer to update my creative resume, business cards, digital portfolio to create a more unified personal brand. Reach out to your professors or peers with your updates and ask for their thoughts or edits they suggest to get it as close to perfect as you can.
Start your network
Start by simply thinking about where you want to be in three to five years. Now think about who you have talked to that is in that career field, location, or has a connection to someone that fits that criteria and building a “connection map.” I have started keeping a working spreadsheet of who I have networked with to maintain those relationships, as well as a list of people I am hoping to network with in the future.
Using this time to build and maintain connections will pay off as you start your job hunt for the future. Set up informational interviews with people you hope to add to your network to seek information about their background, career, location, or organization. Reconnect with people you have built a relationship with previously. By maintaining a consistent level of contact and bringing value to the relationship, you are putting yourself a step ahead of peers who only reach out when they need something out of a relationship.
While it’s important to use the time during the summer to relax, it’s just as important to use your time effectively as well. You can still sit by the pool and be productive, or use your rainy days to focus on some networking tasks. Seizing some of your summer time off to build your network will pay off in the long run.