Summertime: What Do I Do Now?

In 18 days at 6:00PM EST, my building will be closed for the summer (I’m not counting, I swear). The students will have finished their finals and moved back home or to their summer stations. At 6:01PM, I will let out a massive sigh of relief and continue to process how this year went and what I can do this fall to improve my student’s standard of living. As a grad student, I realized that the students would move away for the summer, but I never actually processed what in the world I would be doing while they are away. While this will vary between each individual person and each particular contract, summer can often become what you make of it!

At my current institution, we are on a 12-year contract. During the summer, we are given unique summer assignments ranging from orientation endeavors to preparing for our fall trainings. For me, I have been afforded the opportunity to get my hands in many different areas, including the development of a new recruitment video, working with our summer conferences, and continuing to develop our new social media presence. While I did not have the opportunity to “pick” these different assignments, I believe it was my actions throughout the year which enabled me to be placed in them. By actively demonstrating my skills and volunteering for various opportunities throughout the year, I was able to better place myself for my summer assignments. I am excited for each and every one of them, as I feel they will make my summer go by exceedingly fast while providing me work in some of my passion areas.

If you aren’t provided summer assignments by your department or university, how are you going to utilize the extra time that you used to spend working with your students? The easiest route would be to subscribe to more YouTube channels or become obsessively annoying on Twitter via #SAChat. However with that ample time, there is the opportunity to develop great ideas for the group you work with. What is that annoying paper process that you wish you could do away with? Could you make it electronic? Could you eliminate a step from the process? How is your office or desk organized? Is it conducive to student learning? Do you even know what all is in your desk? How about networking across your department and across campus? Go to lunch with a colleague from another division. Try and jump on a university task force. As you can see, there are a ton of opportunities that may not be available during the traditional school year. Make sure and maximize your next few months’ potential!

For many people, however, they may not be on contract during the summer. For some, this means some much needed rest and relaxation. For others, it is a time to play catch up. For most, it is probably somewhere in between both of these absolutes, which leads to an optimal time for some professional development. Just because you are not “working” does not mean you shouldn’t be learning. I would argue that this time is a pivotal period for you to be able to examine your true strengths and weaknesses and be able to improve upon them without the daily hustle and bustle of the average work week. View a webinar, visit a colleague at another campus, or sit down and work on that idea you had the entire year which would benefit your office but you never got the opportunity to put it into place. Utilize this relaxed atmosphere to regenerate your enthusiasm for the profession, and come into the fall semester relaxed with your guns blazing.

And for others, you are preparing to head off to your first professional position! First of all, if you have already received an offer, congratulations! If not, don’t worry. The jobs will come. Just keep your head up and keep applying. The hiring cycle is cyclical, and new jobs will be posted. Once you receive that job, it is then up to you as to how you are going to spend your last few weeks of freedom. For most, I would recommend a lot of rest. You probably want to get your body back on a normal schedule from all of those late night paper writing sessions. Beyond that, the choice is yours. Are you traveling away from home? Be sure to spend time with your close family and friends for clarity of mind and rejuvenating relationships. Are you stepping into a position that is different than your current experience? Don’t be afraid to set up a visit with your new staff or do some personal goal setting to determine your professional direction.

Regardless of whether or not you are on contract this summer, you’re a tenured professional, or you are the brand new rookie on campus, maximize your summer plan. Make sure you are constantly striving towards your end-goal. Every little bit helps and will not only make your fall more streamlined and healthy for you, but it will make a world of difference for your students. With all of that being said, be sure to have fun and relax. It is summer, and you deserved it. But as fellow writer @katieericson stated last week, remember to Wear Sunscreen.

harle Cherry

Student Affairs - the First Years

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