Seven Ways to Use the Summer to Advance Your Career

By Caroline Ceniza-Levine '93BC of the Columbia Career Coaches Network
This article originally appeared on

My latest Forbes post covers how to use the summer to keep your job search going, but you can also use the summer to advance your career. With the longer days and often slower work pace, summer is an opportune time to turn your focus on career goals outside of your day-to-day work. Here are seven ideas for tapping into summer's unique advantages to advance your career:

Take a Real Vacation

Even as I just encouraged you to add on more work during the summer months, you can also opt to take on less work, and in fact, stop work entirely by actually taking your vacation days. While vacation shaming does prevent some people from taking their vacation days, you know better! Use the time off to recharge, so you can come back to your career with a fresh perspective.

Read More Professional Development

You'll likely have more time to read during the summer—on your vacation or during weekends at the beach. Add some professional development titles to your list. I recently read and loved the rags-to-riches entrepreneurship tale, The Donut King. My own professional development in the last few years has focused on financial independence/ retiring early (FIRE), and there are great FIRE resources out there—you really can learn about anything!

Expand Your Networking

Use the long summer days, the good weather, and the slower work pace to finally catch up with people you don't regularly see. Mix it up, so you keep your network varied and full of the 10 types of contacts every network should include.

Take Advantage of Summer Socials

Some professional associations take a hiatus from events during the summer, but others continue to host summer barbecues or other social events. If you don't see an event you want to attend, throw your own party—you can use it to expand your networking.

Experiment with Working Remotely

If you don't already work remotely, summer is a natural time to experiment with a flexible arrangement. Even if you have no intention of working remotely on a regular basis, it's good to have this option in an emergency. If you enjoy it, you may want to negotiate for flexibility to continue after the summer.

Experiment with a Side Gig

A side gig is not just for someone aspiring to be an entrepreneur. A side gig can advance your career. Summer is an ideal time to experiment with a side gig. Employers are often short-staffed when key workers go on vacation. Your newly formed consulting gig can fill in the gap. Your own workplace may be slow enough (it's summer) that you have the extra time.

Explore Possible Relocation

Having lived all my life in the same city where I was born, I can't talk about the advantages of relocating firsthand. However, even for someone like me, who has lived in the same location for over four decades, I see a tremendous value in busting open assumptions and forcing yourself to think about alternatives, even disruptive ones like relocation. For me, opening up my lens and considering relocation got me unstuck on my next career moves after 40. Even if you think you would never relocate, forcing yourself to think through where you could go, what you would do, and even how you would rebuild your network from scratch is a great exercise in expanding possibilities.

None of these suggestions to advance your career over the summertime are particularly hard or time-intensive. Now you don't have an excuse to ignore your career even during the lazy days of summer!



 Caroline Ceniza-Levine coaches executives and entrepreneurs and is a member of the Columbia Career Coaches   Network. She is a career columnist for Forbes and wrote for,, CNBC, and Portfolio. She is the author of: "Jump Ship: 10 Steps To Starting A New Career" (2015, Forbes), "Six  Steps To Job Search Success" (2011, Flat World Knowledge), and "How the Fierce Handle Fear: Secrets to Succeeding in Challenging Times" (2010, Two Harbors Press). She teaches Professional Development and Negotiation courses at Columbia University and received a grant from the Jones New York Empowerment Fund for her work with the mid-career professional. A classically trained pianist at Juilliard and Manhattan School of Music, Ceniza-Levine stays active in the arts, performing stand-up comedy. Contact her here.

Learn more about the Columbia Career Coaches Network.

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