Maximize Your Summer: Tips For the Career Development Professional

Contributed by: Tiffany I. Waddell, Assistant Director for Career Development at Davidson College

While many of my peers and colleagues at different institutions talk about the summer as being a great time to catch up, take vacation time, and plan for the upcoming year – I know it can often feel hard to get it all done before the academic year kicks back up in late August. Before you know it, it’s back to school time!   For many of us who work on the career advising side, summer school and students who live in close proximity to campus may also mean that your calendar isn’t quite as flexible as you may like on some days.  Here are four quick tips to help you maximize your time this summer in preparation for a strong fall semester start!

Map It Out

Make a list of summer projects and goals you would like to accomplish by the middle of August, then re-order them in terms of priority or deadline.  Whether you’re into the digital calendar or hardcopy (I like to use both…) make sure you look weeks ahead on your calendar and hold project or administrative chunks of time to your calendar for different projects.  You may even designate certain days for certain projects and allot an appropriate amount of time to get that task done.  This not only ensures that you are earmarking time to work on large projects/planning needs, but that nothing else gets scheduled over that time inadvertently.  Getting organized doesn’t just mean eliminating clutter – it also means managing your time well and creating space to get things done!

Meet With Campus Partners

Schedule coffee or lunch with other campus administrators you worked with this year (or would like to work with in the future).  Without a lot of looming deadlines in front of us, summer is a great time to re-connect, reflect on what worked, and brainstorm future possibilities.  This is a great way to build and maintain relationships while breaking silos across campus, and identifying areas of potential collaboration and support, too.  And who doesn’t like a nice beverage or breakfast and change of scenery while talking business?  Find an alternative space outside of your office to meet!

Read As Much As You Can

I have been known to be guilty of putting my personal and professional to do list on hold while school is in session.  During heavy programming season, I often find it hard to read for leisure and even best practices.  Yikes. Something I have implemented for this summer is a reading list of books that I would like to complete by the end of the summer.  Slowly but surely, I am accomplishing this goal and it feels great to check them off as I go.  You may even consider starting a book club with friends and colleagues on your campus or at other schools in the region to hold each other accountable for your reading goals.

Schedule Breaks

You may get in the groove of getting a lot done – and if you’re anything like me, you absolutely love making to do lists and crossing things out as you accomplish them.  However, it is very important to take time out for yourself and schedule breaks to rest, relax, and reflect.  Taking care of yourself (even if it means a staycation at home a few times this summer…) is crucial for your success and wellbeing.  Don’t head into a new school year burnt out from your summer.  Remember to take time to take care of you.

How do you maximize your summer months?  Share in the comments below!


Tiffany Waddell, ContributorTiffany I. Waddell is the Assistant Director for Career Development at Davidson College. She has coached hundreds of budding young professionals on how to create strategic action plans for academic and career-related goals. Affectionately known for her “tough love” approach to coaching and people development, she is an avid connector of people and ideas. Connect with Tiffany on Twitter @tiffanyiwaddell or via email at


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