Summer break is a great opportunity to grow your college skills. You have more free time now that classes are over, giving you the perfect opportunity to learn something new — especially if it boosts knowledge for your intended major or career.
If you’re looking for ideas, here are seven college skills to teach yourself over the summer.
1. Research & Information-Gathering Skills
Part of the college experience is learning to be independent. Knowing how to research can enhance this skill.
During college, you will need to know how to gather information effectively. Many classes require you to write research papers and analyze data.
Employers also look for graduates who can collect information efficiently. This skill is especially important for administrative tasks. It is also essential in scientific fields.
Here are some tips for improving your research skills to keep in mind:
- Define your research based on the task
- Break down the project into achievable parts
- Evaluate your sources
- Consult with a librarian
- Practice critical reading strategies, such as annotating
Consider getting a summer internship or volunteering to put these skills into practice.
2. IT Skills
In today’s digital world, computer knowledge is essential. If you’re taking any online classes, information technology (IT) will be an important piece of your learning experience. You may end up submitting most of your assignments through an online platform.
These IT skills are essential for your future career as well. Many companies use specific platforms or programming languages. This is why it’s beneficial to become familiar with different types of software.
To increase your digital skills, consider taking online courses over the summer. Here are some specific areas you could focus on:
- Cloud computing
- Data analytics
- Networking and wireless tech
- Software development
3. Interpersonal Skills
This is one of the most important college skills to learn over the summer. Interpersonal skills focus on how well you interact and communicate with others. They involve traits such as being a good listener and understanding other people’s points of view.
You need interpersonal skills to thrive on campus. You want to get along with your classmates, professors, and roommates. Improving your people skills can help strengthen these relationships.
Positive friendships can make your college experience much more enjoyable. It’s also good for your overall mental health.
These interpersonal skills will carry into your future career. Bosses want employees who can work well with other employees. Another top interpersonal skill employers value is communication.
Here are some additional interpersonal skills that will help your future career:
- Conflict management
- Positive attitude
Consider joining a social club in your local community to put these traits into practice.
4. Teamwork Skills
Knowing how to work well in a team setting is just as important as being a leader. When doing group work in your college courses, this is a vital skill. To get the job done, each group team member must cooperate and compromise.
Teamwork is also an important skill to teach yourself over the summer if you want to join any college clubs. Being part of a club means you have to work with others to plan events and raise funds.
Your ability to work in a group will also stand out to recruiters. Here are some of the other benefits of teamwork in a professional setting:
- Fosters creativity
- Builds trust
- Teaches conflict resolution
- Builds on individual strengths
- Encourages risk-taking
Consider volunteering in your local community to improve your leadership skills.
5. Networking Skills
Learning the art of networking is a valuable college skill to learn over summer break. After all, college is the ideal time to start making connections.
Start with your professors and then branch out to local companies. Your school will most likely have job fairs. Take advantage of these to connect with employers. Also, look into your college’s career service office.
Here are some tips to networking successfully you should try out:
- Leverage social media
- Wait to ask for a job
- Ask them to review your resume
- Let the other person speak
- Find a reason to follow up with them
Over the summer, network with people online to become more comfortable. LinkedIn is a great resource for making professional connections.
Do some research on your dream company and connect with those employers. You can even start small by asking your friends and family for references.
6. Typing Skills
Being a fast typer is a trait that will serve you well, both in college and in your career. In college, you’ll write many essays. Increasing your typing speed can free up time for you to do more personal things. It also can be helpful when taking notes in class.
Being able to type quickly is attractive to recruiters as well. In a work setting, efficiency is key. Luckily, there are free online typing speed tests where you can practice your skills.
7. Foreign Language Skills
To help you get ahead in your courses, give you a competitive edge in the career market, and offer you unique cultural exposure, learning a new language is an exciting skill to master.
Most colleges require you to take a language, so having this skill will help you to be one step ahead. What’s more, if you’re interested in studying abroad, knowing another language will help you achieve that goal.
Language is also a marketable trait for employers. You can better communicate with their foreign clients. Even better, you can learn more about other cultures, expand your way of thinking, and become a better global citizen.
College Skills to Learn Over Summer Break
Summer break may seem like the perfect time to just chill out — but it can also be a great opportunity to learn a new skill! Consider teaching yourself these college skills over the summer for a positive college experience and a rewarding career trajectory.
About Ginger Abbot: Ginger Abbot writes on a variety of educational topics, including international study and career planning. She also serves as Editor-in-Chief for the learning publication Classrooms, where you can read more of her work.