Sunshine, flipflops, and lazy days – that’s what summer is all about, right? That may be the case in June, when students have worked hard all year and are ready for a break. But by the end of July, with more than a month of summer left to go, students may be ready to make use of that time. Schedule-free sunny days are the perfect time to start thinking about the future, and how to be prepared for opportunities that may come along.
Many transition students do have summer jobs, which are valuable in more ways than just getting a paycheck (although getting paid is a good feeling!) Summer jobs help students learn what a regular workday is like, and build the resume for finding more permanent work.
We spoke with Nicole Perdue, Pre-Employment Transition Coordinator, about ways that students can keep developing job skills over the fun summer months. She laid out four different ways for transition students to dip their toes into vocational opportunities and learn what kind of jobs might be a good fit for them. Most of all, these activities help build confidence for success in new work environments.
Four ways to build vocational skills during summer:
1. Practice communication skills
Summer is an easy time to be out and about, and talk with a variety of people. It’s a great chance to practice important communication skills! One goal may be to introduce yourself to a new person every week, taking time to shake hands and have a short conversation. What would you like people to know about you when you first meet? Introducing yourself gets easier with every person you meet.
2. Tour colleges and trade schools
Summer’s flexible schedule makes it a good time to visit campuses, which are less crowded during summer sessions. Take advantage of any family travel plans to tour universities, community colleges, and trade schools along the way! Many colleges have an office for disability services, which may be open during summer hours. Schedule a campus tour, or use a campus map to walk around and get a feel for it.
3. Spend some time helping others
Volunteering is a win-win activity. Organizations need help to make their work happen, and volunteers benefit too. Helping out at an event or at a workplace helps students learn about themselves – like whether they like to work with people, or in more quiet situations – and it’s a good resume builder. The Bend Bulletin lists volunteer openings, or check VolunteerConnect.org for ways to help out at a single event or on a regular basis.
4. Learn about different kinds of jobs
Students who aren’t quite ready to jump into the workforce can move towards that goal by doing some job shadowing. Some job shadowing is done officially, with the support of an agency. But learning about different work situations can happen anywhere, anytime. Take some time to watch employees in different businesses, and pay attention to how they act and what they do.
For example, think about visiting a favorite store. If you were working at this store, what would you be asked to do? How would you interact with customers? Can you chat with an employee at the store, and ask them about their job? By taking the time to learn about places that you would like to work, you’ll have a good idea a what to expect when you are ready to begin a job search.