Reflect…without glare

Did you know there is an actual national day of unplugging?

Each year – on the first weekend of March — the National Day of Unplugging begins 30 minutes before sundown on Friday, and continues for the next 24 hours. The idea is to allow people to reconnect – with others, with themselves, and the world around them. It’s a shame that (1) this is even necessary, and (2) it take place in March.

Summertime is probably the best time for college students to take some time for important reflection. For most, the schedule is less hectic…even if there is work or summer classes, the overall workload is usually lessened from the mid-semester grind. Additionally, the longer days and better weather provide greater opportunity to engage with the outside world. In Storrs, March is still winter most years!

This summer, take some time here and there to reflect. Put away your screens…you can’t stream this stuff. Consider those things that we career advisors always say, but this time, give yourself the mental space to truly reflect.

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Some reflections might be immediate and pragmatic…perhaps about your summer internship:

  • Can you describe the culture of your summer workplace? Why do you like or dislike it?
  • What is your relationship with your manager this summer? Are you mentored? Ignored?
  • What skills are you gaining or improving in your position? Would you like to work in the same manner when you graduate?

These sorts of immediate reflections are not too complicated, but most students don’t give themselves the time to consider these very basic questions about work. These ideas aren’t even so much about what you might want to do later in life, but rather what settings could work best for you…context rather than content.

Still feeling like you’re missing something? Go deeper. The answers to these questions usually won’t reveal themselves in one sitting, but that shouldn’t stop you from considering them…and doing so without digital interference:

  • Do I like working independently, in a team, or with a mix of both?
  • Can I concentrate in an open workspace environment?
  • Do I want to work in a position that requires a great deal of face-to-face interaction?
  • How important is my employer’s mission and goals to me?

When providing yourself with some time and space to reflect, you’ll really begin to own some self-awareness. IF you’re struggling with really zeroing in on how you feel, take time to utilize some of the tools on the CCD website to help guide your reflections.

These exercises will help you consider:

  • What are your career “must-haves?” What are your deal-breakers?”
  • What careers would be fulfilling to you? What are you passionate about?
  • What careers will support your personality style and come naturally to you?
  • What are you good at or what skills would you like to use?

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Ultimately, while online tools can help guide your reflections, the answers won’t be on your computer, phone, or tablet. Sure, you can take the assessments, but you’ll need to take time to consider them afterwards. It’s summertime, go outside. Take a hike, fly a kite, sit on the beach. But use that time to truly ask yourself some important questions, and reflect on the possible responses

Need some guidance? We’re here all summer. Call the CCD at 860.486.3013 and make an appointment with one of our career consultants. This is what we do. We may not be able to give you all the answers, but we can certainly help you ask yourself better questions.

By John Bau
John Bau Career Consultant, School of Engineering John Bau