Is your career growth on vacation

Jodie Charlop

by Jodie Charlop 82Ox 85C
Executive Career Coach, EAA
July 2011

It’s easy to fall prey to the myth that nothing much happens over the summer from a career perspective. Is it reality or just wishful thinking as those poignant memories of summer break are ingrained forever in our psyche? If the heat of summer has you slowing your career focus, here are a few tips to ensure your career growth doesn’t cool off too much.

1. Plan a career trip for yourself. Set aside an hour, a day or a weekend to reflect on your career goals and plans. Commit your goals to paper. What is your dream destination? What do you need to pack? How do you map your route? If we spent as much time packing and planning for our careers as we do for vacations, imagine the possibilities.

2. Visit with a mentor or coach. While you may be seeing family and friends this summer, take time to add a mentor to your schedule. If you don’t have a mentor, consider a former boss or coach. Career conversation with a trusted advisor offers great perspective and can often help you see opportunities that you may be missing.

3. Step up to a new visible assignment. With many professionals taking time off, look for opportunities for interim leadership or a chance to stretch your skills on a project that will allow you to shine. If you are in transition, consider a volunteer project. Non-profit organizations will face the same need for great resources as staff members take time off.

4. Take a leadership book to the pool. Nothing makes you more valuable than improving your leadership. Dust off a classic like How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie or, if you are stuck, download The 100 Best Business Books of All Time by Jack Covert and Todd Sattersten to create your own reading list.

5. Take a digital break. Unplug. Get off your email. Put down your Blackberry or mobile phone of choice. Walk around the office and actually talk with people. Not only will you boost your reputation, you might actually broaden your internal career opportunities.

6. Build your network. Take advantage of summer block parties, barbecues and other fun summer outings. Ask smart questions, get to know people and develop new relationships. You never know what opportunities may await you.

7. Take a professional development workshop or, better yet, register for fall classes. Stay ahead with your education and training to keep your skills sharp, whether it’s mastering a new computer course, honing your presentation skills, or learning about a new industry or area of interest. You’ll also meet people -- and that creates more great networking opportunities.

To quote personal development coach, Jim Roh, “I find it fascinating that most people plan their vacations with better care than they plan their careers or lives. Perhaps that’s because escape is much easier than change.”

Take time for your career this summer. Who knows – you might just make it the trip you’ve always dreamed about.

The EAA’s Executive Career Coach Jodie Charlop 82Ox 85C, founder and chief coaching officer for Potential Matters, specializes in working with individuals and organizations that want to achieve higher levels of personal and professional results in their business, careers, or lives.