So it’s summertime and you’re heading back to camp–the same camp you’ve always attended, right? But you’re a counselor so you’re getting paid, you can hang out with your old friends…seems like a real coup, right?
Not so fast. If you’ve been a counselor before and are now graduating from high school or are already in college, it may be time to get some different experience. I see too many students in late high school and college continue to work at camps when they could be discovering careers and becoming more employable for the long term. Late high school and college summers are precious–you’re more mature, you have some skills and focus, and you’re at an age where you’ll be taken more seriously and given more substantive projects.
My advice: Don’t squander this time by doing what’s safe! This is the right time to try out working in an office or out in the field, depending on your particular interests and proclivities. Playing it safe will mean that come the end of senior year in college, you won’t have enough background to make smart decisions about what you might be interested in pursuing in a career. And employers will view you as someone who doesn’t take chances or stretch yourself. In this market nobody can afford to leave that impression.
For long-term career opportunities, I strongly encourage you to try out an internship or get a job working pretty much anywhere. Any experience is better than no experience, and can provide information about the workplace and how things operate. Working in a store will enrich your perspective about working with people, customer service, merchandising, operations and marketing. Being in an office will show you what it’s like to work hard for other people and will help you develop new contacts. Being out in the field will enlighten you about research and working on a team. Any of these experiences are invaluable.
Especially if you don’t have internships or jobs under your belt, make this summer count. Career planning is too important to leave to the last summer of college when you’ll find yourself playing catch-up with your more resourceful peers.