Seven Ways to Use the Summer to Advance Your Career
I focused my Forbes column on how to use the summer to keep your job search going, but you can also use the summer to advance your career. With the longer days and (often) slower work pace, summer is an opportune time to turn your focus on career goals outside of your day-to-day work. Here are seven ideas for tapping into summer’s unique advantages to advance your career.
Take a real vacation.
Even as I just encouraged you to add on more work during the summer months, you can also opt to take on less work, and in fact, stop work entirely by actually taking your vacation days. While vacation shaming does prevent some people from taking their vacation days, you know better! Use the time off to recharge, so you can come back to your career with a fresh perspective.
Read more professional development.
You’ll likely have more time to read during the summer, whether it's on your vacation or during weekends at the beach. Add some professional development titles to your list. I recently read and loved the rags-to-riches entrepreneurship tale, “The Donut King.” My own professional development in the last few years has focused on Financial Independence/Retiring Early (FIRE), and there are great FIRE resources out there – you really can learn about anything!
Expand your networking.
Use the longer summer days, good weather, and slower work pace to finally catch up with people you don’t regularly see. Mix it up, so you keep your network varied and full of the 10 types of contacts every network should include.
Take advantage of summer socials.
Some professional associations take a hiatus from events during the summer, but others continue to host summer barbecues and other social events. If you don’t see an event you want to attend, throw your own party – you can use it to expand your networking.
Experiment with working remotely.
If you don’t already work remotely, summer is a natural time to experiment with a flexible arrangement. Even if you have no intention of working remotely on a regular basis, it’s good to have this option in an emergency. If you enjoy it, you may want to negotiate for flexibility to continue after the summer.
Experiment with a side gig.
A side gig is not just for someone aspiring to be an entrepreneur. A side gig can advance your career. Summer is an ideal time to experiment with a side gig. Employers are often short-staffed when key workers go on vacation. Your newly-formed consulting gig can fill in the gap. Your own workplace may be slow enough during the summer months that you have the extra time.
Explore possible relocation.
Having lived all my life in the same city where I was born, I can’t talk about the advantages of relocating firsthand. However, even for someone like me, there is tremendous value in busting open assumptions and forcing yourself to think about alternatives, even disruptive ones like relocation.
For me, opening up my lens and considering relocation got me unstuck on my next career moves after 40. Even if you think you would never relocate, forcing yourself to think through where you could go, what you would do, and even how you would rebuild your network from scratch is a great exercise in expanding possibilities.
None of these suggestions to advance your career over the summertime are particularly hard or time-intensive. Now you don’t have an excuse to ignore your career, even during the lazy days of summer!
Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.
As the co-founder of SixFigureStart and Costa Rica FIRE, I specialize in helping executives, entrepreneurs, and creatives make a great living doing work they love. I am a career change expert and have changed careers multiple times myself -- classical pianist, banker, consultant, recruiter, actor, career coach, real estate investor... Continue Reading
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