5 Ways to Improve Your Career This Summer

Ah, it’s summertime and the living is easy. Things have slowed down a bit a work, you have a little more breathing room, and your boss is even letting everyone leave early on Fridays. It’s a nice change from the usual frenetic pace, but before you pack up your sunblock and hit the beach, you might want to think about how you are using your newfound free time. If you want to get ahead in your career, the summer months are the perfect time to get started, when you aren’t quite as overwhelmed by your to-do list.

In fact, there are several ways you can give your career a boost during the summer without even losing any of your downtime. If you want to get ahead, put some of these activities on your summer bucket list.

1. Make a Summer Reading List

Remember when you were a kid and had to slog through several classic novels every summer? Bring back your summer reading list, but instead of Shakespeare and Hawthorne, try reading some thought leaders in your industry. There are literally hundreds of business titles published every year, so spend some time making a list of the ones that are most relevant to your career and choose a few to read while you’re sitting at the beach or pool. Try creating a list based on a theme, such as online marketing or leadership, or choosing books by a single author. The insights you glean from those books might just be what you need to make some positive changes at work.

2. Start Your Graduate Degree

If you have been thinking about going back to school, the summertime is the ideal time to start. The best online MBA programs offer summer courses; most offer entrance on a rolling basis, or will allow students to take one or two courses before they are fully admitted. Summer courses are ideal because they tend to be more compressed than courses in other semesters, and have lower enrollments, meaning you’ll get plenty of attention from your instructors. Even if you don’t enroll in courses right now, you can spend the summer getting ready to apply to grad school, or taking refresher courses at a local community college so you can hit the ground running in the fall.

3. Work on a Passion Project

Have you had a great idea rolling around in your mind for months now, but just haven’t had the time to devote to it? The summer slowdown is the perfect time to start giving that idea more attention. If you don’t have a passion project, spend some time working on other projects that have been neglected while you’ve been working on other things. For instance, have you been frustrated with a specific process, but haven’t had time to think about or implement changes? Give that process some attention now, and work on making the changes when you don’t have other priorities.

4. Strengthen Your Network

Networking doesn’t just take place at specific events. You need to put work into cultivating strong relationships, and building a connection with others. The summer months are the perfect time to do this. Join the company sports team, attend barbecues and other events, or hit the links to play some golf with clients or contacts. If your social calendar is already full, use some of the extra time in your day to build your network in others ways. Give your LinkedIn profile an overhaul, send a few notes out each week, or just reach out with a phone call to check in with some of your contacts. When you put forth that effort, your network will be more than just a list of names, but actual relationships.

5. Get More Experience

Finally, if you aren’t as stressed by work, you may have time to give your resume – and possibly your income – a boost by volunteering or taking on a side hustle. Put your interests and hobbies to work by taking on some freelance projects or volunteering your talents to others in need. You’ll gain valuable new experience, or at the very least, make a bit of extra cash to fund your summer adventures.

Of course, not all businesses slow down in the summer, but if you’re lucky enough to find yourself with some breathing room, but that time to good use. You’ll still get in some R & R, but you’ll also have some new advantages when things pick up again in the fall.