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Brady Krien is a Ph.D. candidate in English Literature at the University of Iowa where he teaches in the Department of Rhetoric. You can find him on Twitter at @BradyKrien.

Final grades are submitted. Email inboxes have been cleaned out and offices have been tidied. Quiet has descended on campus.

For most graduate students, summer involves shifting to a lower (or at least a different) gear. This can involve refocusing on research and writing, returning to a summer job, spending lots of uninterrupted time in the lab, finishing that last chapter, or escaping campus to travel. No matter what your summer plans are or where you are in your degree program, summer is also one of the best times to work on some of the professional development work that tends to get pushed to the back burner (and perhaps even fall behind the stove entirely) during the academic year. While there are probably many other things on your summer to-do list, small investments of time in a little bit of professional work can lead to huge dividends and less stressful summers in the future.

Update Your C.V./Resume

If you only work on one professional thing this summer, it should be your C.V. or Resume. Whether you’re starting from a blank page, updating from the past year, or converting a resume into a C.V., investing the time in making sure that you have updated professional materials is one of the best ways to set yourself up for professional success. It will help you identify areas that you might want to develop further, save you a ton of time when you go on the job market, and ensure that you’re prepared to send out your materials quickly and efficiently. Most importantly, we should all sit down at some point during the summer and reflect on (and document) everything that we’ve accomplished during the year. It can be hard to measure success in grad school and its important to track (and celebrate) your successes. Updating your C.V. is a great way to begin.

Network (A Little)

Yes, networking can be stressful. It can feel inauthentic. And it’s hard. It’s also incredibly important on the academic job market and there are a lot of different ways to approach it that are less intimidating (and more effective) than tracking down senior scholars at conferences and trying to interest them in your work. You can begin by building a Linkedin profile, doing a single informational interview, or even joining a professional organization in your field and exploring their website. No matter what you choose, it’s a good idea to pick at least one networking-type task to do during the summer and cross it off your list.

Build a Website

While there are a lot of arguments about the value of academic websites, they can be an excellent way to display and disseminate your work and they can be a great summer project. They are not as hard to begin to build as they first seem and the process can be unexpectedly fun and addictive. It’s entirely possible to build a website without learning code and it opens up new avenues for writing about and sharing your work both inside and outside of the classroom in preparation for applying for jobs (whether academic or not).

Sketch the Coming Year

One of the simplest things you can do to set yourself up for success is to take a few minutes and sketch out what you want to achieve in the coming year and start to map out how you’re going to get there. Are you planning on going to a conference? Applying for a fellowship? Taking a few minutes to write out the things that you want to achieve in the coming year and starting to put deadlines on the calendar can help you get a much better sense of what you need to need to do and when. It can also help you get a better sense of how you can continue to build your C.V. and what you need to focus on first (like the IRB approval you need to collect the preliminary data that you need to write the abstract that you need for the fellowship application that you need for funding the following year).

What professional goals are you hoping to accomplish this summer?

[Image byUnsplash user rawpixel and used under a Creative Commons Public Domain license.]

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