Summer’s Here – But Don’t Forget About Your Career!

While your summer forecast may include sandy beaches, pool parties, and catching up on bestsellers, it’s also a great time of year to reflect on your professional development and do some career building.

Here are five cool ways you can tend to your career this summer – and still enjoy your downtime!

1. Take advantage of the thinner crowd. Summer means fewer people at the office. Take a look at who’s still around and pinpoint who you can network with, especially if they are in a totally different department or functional area. Would getting to know Susan from Marketing be a good move, or does Jack in Finance seem like he would be a strong connection? Take the initiative and connect with fellow employees you might not normally interact with. Summer is also a great time to linger over a conversation that includes lunch or a cold beverage – a great setting for building these new relationships.

2. Learn more about your employer. Why? In general, it’s a good strategy to be knowledgeable about your employer and its brand. You can find a lot of information not only on the company website, but also from an annual report, news articles, even executive or employee bios. If keeping abreast of your organization’s accomplishments, new clients, leadership, and direction excites you, then it’ll continue to be a good career fit. And hey, it may spark some great new ideas you can share with your leadership, or help you discover another individual to network with (re-read #1)!

3. Ponder your personal brand. One quick way to do this is to re-read your performance reviews. While this might not sound like the greatest way to spend your precious summer months, it’s worth it. For one thing, assessing your performance reviews when you have downtime is a different experience than doing so when your review is around the corner – there’s no stress or pressure. For another, what other people say (and write) about you is a significant part of your personal brand.

If you can’t find your reviews or don’t have copies, ask HR for help. And read through all of them, not just the most recent. You might detect running themes, think of different ways to interact with your manager, or set a new career goal. This strategy will get you thinking about how others perceive you, and what you might want or need to change to improve your personal brand.

4. Answer some key career reflection questions. Take a quiet moment to ask yourself: “What do I want?” Your answer might bring up many ideas – and evoke some strong emotion. And that’s okay, since it’s your career. It’s up to you where you want to take it, and to decide what makes you happy.

If you’re up for it, keep chipping away: “What will achieving this do for me?” and “How will I know when I have it?” Your answers may – or may not – surprise you. Don’t judge any of it or necessarily take action quite yet. Just sit with what authentically comes up for you, and know this is important information you can act on (if you want to) post-summer.

5. Read a book that will help your career development. That book that’s been gathering dust on your desk? This summer you might finally have the time and headspace to absorb it. The options are plentiful, so choose whatever book speaks to you, from how to write your resume to how to navigate a career transition. Wherever you are with your career, you might find just the right resource or just the right author that can offer you professional guidance, provide you with new tools or ideas, and help you make a potential career change. Check out some of my suggestions!

Enjoy the summer, with its change of pace, more relaxed approach to life, and more tranquil mindset. Include some career development in the mix, and you’ll set yourself up for further success come fall (and beyond!).