Monday, August 12, 2013

Saying So Long to Summer…

By Samantha Haimes, Assistant Director of Experiential Initiatives
The summer of 2013 has without a doubt been my best summer yet. I spent my first summer as a full-time Toppel staff member (woo!!), traveled with some of my closest friends to different U.S. cities, got married, and visited Hawaii for an epic honeymoon. Like I said, BEST summer yet.

As I share stories of my summer with many students and staff right here at UM, I find myself wondering about their summers as well. As we go through the day-to-day, I think it’s important to reflect on our experiences, both personal and professional. While it’s easy to forget, actively reflecting on our summer experiences and events can really have a lasting and positive impact on our future. So as you read this post, I challenge you to really think about your summer and ultimately, reflect, reflect, reflect!

This summer…

…Who did you meet?

I met a lot of new people this summer- wedding vendors, other brides, tour guides, and even some fellow honeymooners. If you think about it, you probably met a lot of new people as well: perhaps new professors, fellow interns, maybe even your friend’s parents? The list goes on and on. Regardless, consider all of the individuals you interacted with and how they could possibly have a positive impact on your career.  Ask yourself:

  • Have I effectively built relationships or networked with different people this summer?
  • Did I interact with people who can offer me advice on majors or career choices?
  • How can I build a strong network with those who can benefit me?
  • Did I connect with them on LinkedIn or via e-mail?

Maintaining these relationships – whether you met them once or if they are your new BFF- is always a good idea as you just never know how people can truly help you in your own career.

…Where did you go?

I love to travel and it has been far too long since I have traveled anywhere that wasn’t just a quick drive away. I feel lucky that we were able to go to Hawaii for our honeymoon and spend time in the most beautiful place I have ever been. The views were breathtaking, the people were pleasant, and the activities were the most fun.

Hopefully, you were able to do a little bit of traveling this summer whether it was to visit friends or family, for an internship or job, or perhaps even to spend time abroad. With any kind of travel experience, it is a great idea to reflect and again ask yourself:

  • Is this a place I could see myself living one day? (In my case, I wish!) 
  • What are some of the most popular careers in this region? Does this align with my own career goals? Would I benefit from working in another state or perhaps abroad?
  • Could I see myself working in a career with an element of international travel or globalization? 

…What did you do?

Even though the past 3 months of summer have flown by, when I think about all that I have done, both in my personal life and here at Toppel, I am very excited! Personally, getting married and spending so much time with close friends and family has definitely been the highlight. Professionally, I hit my one-year anniversary working full time at the Toppel Career Center and have never been more motivated or excited for my role and the programs and projects that come along with it. 

More importantly, what did you do this summer? Were you working at a summer job or internship? Perhaps volunteering? Studying for the MCAT or filling out the dreaded AMCAS application (pre-meds, you know what I am talking about!). Maybe you learned a new skill or computer program? Well, however it was that you spent most of your time this summer, make sure to find the professional takeaway for yourself. If you volunteered, add it to your resume. If you were interning, be sure to get a recommendation letter from your employer. If you were studying, well, keep on studying…you’re almost there! Even if you spent most of your time just hanging out with family and friends back home, use them to your advantage and ask for assistance with things like reviewing your resume or cover letter or shadowing them at their place of work before you head back to school.

There’s still time!
My hope for this post is to inspire you to make the most of your summer- not to stress you out! So if you are feeling like you’ve spent a little bit too much time by the pool or on instagram, and not enough time enhancing your career this summer, follow some of these steps while there is still time:

  1. Connect with people on LinkedIn that you met this summer (and create an account ASAP if you don’t already have one). If you didn’t meet anyone that you feel can help you, connect with 5 people whose careers interest you and start a conversation with them.
  2. Write to various people you met this summer via email and inquire about fall internships, shadowing opportunities and informational interviews.
  3. Start applying for fall internships if you haven’t already.
  4. Have your resume critiqued by someone at Toppel during Walk-In Advising or by uploading it to Also, have your friends and family look it over once or twice to see if you are missing anything (sometimes, you can forget your own accomplishments).
  5. Make sure you have a suit and professional dress for the upcoming semester; you’ll need it for events like Career Expo on September 19th (back to school shopping!). 

If there is one final thing that I can leave you with, it is to make this reflection a habit of yours. Don’t wait to do it each summer, but instead, check in with yourself and with us here at Toppel throughout the semester. Think about the people you meet each day, the places you go, and the skills you develop and you will be self-aware and ready to tackle your career. 

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