Final exams are underway for post-secondary students across the country.  While some of you may already have summer plans lined up, others may be unsure what to do over the break given the ongoing pandemic. While it may seem like your options are limited, they’re really not!  Do you need money?  Work experience?  Rest and relaxation? I encourage you to consider what’s most important to you and start from there. 

If you need some inspiration, here are my suggestions for making the most of your summer break.

Learn a new skill

Are you hoping to land a job right after graduation?  Depending on the industry you’re interested in, employers may be looking for certain hard or soft skills in candidates.  Give yourself an edge over your fellow peers by learning these skills during your post-secondary education rather than once you enter the workforce. 

I highly recommend taking advantage of websites that offer complimentary (or fee-based) online courses to learn a new skill.  Some of these websites include ALISON, Udemy, Coursera and many more!  The types of courses that these websites offer are endless.

Or, you may choose to learn a new language this summer.  Being multilingual is a huge plus for many employers, especially in Canada given our multicultural society!  While learning a new language isn’t easy, it’s definitely doable given the right attitude and dedication.  Bonne chance!

Gain work experience; earn money

Many students use their summer break to work and earn money to continue to fund their education. If you fall into this category, you’re certainly not alone!  While the pandemic has reduced some student opportunities previously offered by organizations, it’s also created other opportunities.  I recommend using job boards such as Indeed, Glassdoor, or LinkedIn, and specifically searching “student jobs” to see what populates.  If you don’t see what you’re looking for, take initiative to reach out to companies to see if they’re willing to take on a student for the summer.  You never know unless you ask!

Additionally, many provincial governments  work with local businesses to provide summer job opportunities for students.  I encourage you to take a look at your province’s official websites to see if they have any programs available.  For reference, here’s one that’s available for students in Ontario. Many post-secondary schools provide internship or placement opportunities so you may want to look into this as well.

Using your break to work is a great way to earn money while learning transferable skills that will undoubtedly be useful to you in your future lives and careers!

Take care of your health

Most importantly, I urge you to look out for your mental and physical health this summer. COVID-19 fatigue is at an all-time high right now, but the battle isn’t over yet.  

It is never too late to take some time for yourself, especially after working so hard during the school year and coping with the pandemic. Take some time off to re-charge your batteries before working if you can.  Or if you are working,  block out time every day to “catch your breath” and take advantage of the nice weather outside!  Take in some natural landscapes and go for walks, bike rides, visit parks, hiking trails and beaches, and do so safely and by respecting the latest public health measures. Vitamin D is essential for our bodies to function properly; just remember to wear sunscreen to protect your skin!  If indoors is more your style, read a good book, play an instrument, work on a hobby, listen to music, workout, puzzle or decorate/paint your space.

If you find your mental health struggling over the summer break, remember that your Student Assistance Program (SAP) continues to be available to you.

No matter what you choose to do this summer, remember to be kind to yourself.  It’s been a long, tough year, but we will get through this together.  Good luck!