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Top 9 Tips for Students for the Summer Semester

Top 9 Tips for Students for the Summer Semester

Come May, a sort of frenzy catches students’ minds. While spending the summer at the beach is appealing, you could cut back on the beach time a bit and help yourself out. Student loans are no fun to think about, but they will be piling up. Give yourself a headstart and try some of these tips this summer to get a leg up on the competition.

1. Better Your Career

Go and look at your resume. Then go and look at the resume of someone who was in your shoes give years ago. It is usually an alum from your school or someone similar in age. Compare the most highlighted aspects in their resume and figure out one thing that makes them shine. Do this for top ten people who graduated five years ago. This will give you some idea on where you can see yourself in five years and what you need to do to get their in only two years. It will also be a good way to recognize them for what they have achieved. This will land you ten new contacts that will help you with networking and job hunting when you graduate.

2. Better Yourself as an Individual

You always wanted to learn how to play guitar. You wish you could let loose on the dance floor. If you could do some yoga meditation, that would be awesome. Summer is the time to take one of those wishes and work on them. There are likely classes in your school’s recreation center or at a local YMCA for which you can sign up for. Most of these should be free or cheap, so go for it.

3. Generate Passive Income

There are two ways to make passive income. First one is when you have a talent that could help others. For instance, if you could record a video testimonial for a service you can get paid for it. In order to find buyer for your talent you can go to Fiverr.com –  a website where people do stuff for 5 bucks and list your talent. You would be able to make a small passive income while helping others.

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The second way to make money doesn’t even require a talent. As a student, I have made decent money from places like Flippiness.com –  a website to make money online by flipping books. Flippiness sells you a pair of links, one is where you can buy a book and the other is where you can sell it. You simply order from the selling website, get it shipped to your place, and send it to the website that buys it back. It is an arbitrage opportunity fed by technology taking advantage of varied book pricing on different websites. Spending about 30-60 minutes a day, you can make at least $200 a day.

4. Set Your Goals

Summer semester gives you enough time to set your goals right. List down your goals for the next year so that you know the big picture a year in advance. Then break them down to monthly goals so that you have a short term goal to look forward to. Then break them further down to weekly goals so that you have actionable insights. Once you have set your goals make sure you put your weekly goals at a place you see everyday. Work on them and check things off your list as you achieve them. It will help you stay focused and it will also boost your confidence.

Your goals for next year also include your plans for fall semester. Decide on the courses you want to take and register for classes before others to avoid the last minute rush. Submit your financial aid application and apply for other grants that you are eligible for.

5. Cut Down Expenses

Sixty percent of students pay more than they should or they need to for basic expenses. Give your bank statements from the last three months a good look. Check out where you spent money on a recurring basis. Then put it in a basket of “required” and “not required”. If an expense is not a required one, you don’t want it to appear on your statement over and over again. You can live without Krispy Kream donuts or at least cut down on that service you don’t need anymore, such as a landline phone. If you spend a lot of money on international calls, get yourself some Rebtel coupons and save up to 90% on your calling rates.

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If you are a student, there are offers that you might not be aware of. Most of the universities offer free software for students. Use Microsoft Dreamspark if your department has a subscription to it.

Look at your phone bill and call them to find out if they give a student discount. Even if there is none for your school, you can see if you can go for a discount based on where you work. Working for Flippiness won’t count. Get a cheaper phone connection such as a pre-paid phone without a contract.

6. Get an Internship

Look for mailers on your bulletin board or emails that were sent last month. If your school has a career portal, keep an eye on it as well. Try for a paid internship, but at least get an unpaid one. Internships give you a taste of real world and teach you how to thrive in a professional environment. You would not work on the most critical things in an organization, but helping the financial advisor putting together those Excel sheets for a board meeting will be quite a learning experience.

7. Study Abroad

If you want a great college experience go to another country for a semester. Most of the students have to take their core courses and thus fall and spring semesters are not easy for a study abroad course. However, summer semester is the best time to explore this opportunity. Just make sure you choose the right institution and right course.

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Check with the career counsellor at your school as many schools provide a study abroad course or have an affiliation with another school that does.

8. Avoid Distractions

Everything that seems interesting but takes your time away from your productive self is a distraction. You don’t need that video game and you don’t really want to start watching that soap opera. Decide how much time you want to spend on Facebook and don’t respond to notifications. In fact, stop notifications from Facebook and other sites you don’t really want to spend time on.

Distractions are not necessarily technology based. You might be excited about learning a new hobby, which is great, but there is a limit on how much time you can spend on it.

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9. Respect Your Professors’ Time

Summer semester is short and hence Professor’s need to teach a lot in a short period. They will be in a rush to get things done on time. Don’t be that guy, read before you go to class to make most of it. Don’t email them for make-up exams and quizzes unless there was an emergency. Make their job easier and it will make your job much more easier as a student. Stay disciplined.

If you have any other tips for the summer semester I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or connect with me on social media.

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Mukesh Agarwal

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Last Updated on March 15, 2019

How to Be a Leader Who Is Inspiring and Influential

How to Be a Leader Who Is Inspiring and Influential

When I began managing people 15 years ago, I thought having a fancy title was synonymous with influence. Over time, I learned that power is conferred based on likeability, authenticity, courage, relationships and consistent behavior. When leaders cultivate these attributes, they earn power, which really means influence.

Understanding influence is essential to professional growth, and companies rise and fall based on the quality of their leadership.

In this article, we will look into the essentials of effective leadership and how to be a leader who is inspiring and influential.

What Makes a Leader Fail?

A host of factors influence a leader’s ability to succeed. To the extent that leaders fail to outline a compelling vision and strategy, they risk losing the trust and confidence of their teams. Employees want to know where a company is going and the strategy for how they will get there. Having this information enables employees to feel safe, and it allows them to see mistakes as part of the learning journey versus as fatal occurrences.

If employees and customers do not believe a company’s leadership is authentic and inspiring, they may disengage, or they may be less inclined to offer constructive criticism that can help a company innovate or help a leader improve.

And it is not just the leadership at the top that matters. Middle managers play a distinct role in guiding teams. Depending on the company’s size, employees may have more access to mid-level managers than they do members of the C-suite, meaning their supervisors and managers have greater influence on the employee and the customer experience.

What Is Effective Leadership?

Effective leadership is inspiring, and it is influential. Cultivating inspiring and influential leaders requires building relationships across the company.

Leaders must be connected to both the teams they lead as well as to their own colleagues and managers. This is key as titles do not make a person a leader, nor do they automatically confer influence. These are earned through trusting relationships. This explains why some leaders can get more out of their teams than others and why some leaders experience soaring profits and engagement while others sizzle out.

Eric Garton said in an April 25, 2017, Harvard Business Review article:[1]

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“… inspiring leaders are those who use their unique combination of strengths to motivate individuals and teams to take on bold missions – and hold them accountable for results. And they unlock higher performance through empowerment, not command and control.”

How to Be an Inspiring and Influential Leader

To be an inspiring and influential leader requires:

1. Courage

The late poet Maya Angelou once said,

“Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.”

Courage is required in the workplace when implementing new strategies, especially when they go against professional norms.

For instance, I heard Lisa TerKeurst, bestselling author and founder of Proverbs 31 Ministries, explain her decision to move away from her company’s magazine. While the organization had long had a magazine, she saw a future where it didn’t exist.

In order to make the switch, she risked angering her team members and customers. She took a chance, and what started out as a monthly newsletter, has grown into a multi-dimensional organization boasting half a million followers. Had Lisa not found the courage to change the direction of her organization, they undoubtedly would not have been able to experience such exponential growth.

It also takes courage to give and receive feedback. When leaders see employees who are not living into the company’s mission or who are engaging in behavior that may undermine their long-term success, one must risk temporary angst and speak candidly with the colleague in question.

Similarly, it takes courage to hear constructive criticism and try to change. In business, as in life, courage is necessary for being an inspiring and influential leader.

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2. A Commitment to Face Your Internal Demons.

If you feel great about yourself, enter a leadership position. You are likely to be triggered in ways you didn’t think possible. You are also likely to receive feedback that may leave you second-guessing yourself and your leadership skills.

The truth about leading others is that you get to a point where you realize that it is difficult to take people to places where you yourself haven’t gone.

To be an influential and inspiring leader, you have to face your own demons and vow to continually improve. Influential leaders take their personal evolution serious, and they invest in coaching, therapy and mindfulness to ensure that their personal struggles do not overshadow their professional development.

3. A Willingness to Accept Feedback

Inspiring and influential leaders are not afraid to accept feedback. In fact, they actively solicit it. They understand that everyone in their life has a lesson to teach them, and they are willing to accept it.

Inspirational leaders understand that feedback is neither good nor bad but rather an offering that is critical to growth. Even when it hurts or is an affront to the ego, influential leaders understand that feedback is critical to their ability to lead.

4. Likability

Some people will argue that leaders need not worry about being liked but should instead focus on being respected. I disagree. Both are important.

When team members like their boss and believe their boss likes them, they are more likely to go the extra mile to fulfill departmental or organizational goals. Likable leaders are moved to the front of the line when it comes to being influential.

Relatedly, when colleagues feel management dislikes them, they experience internal stress and can spend unnecessary time focusing on the source of their manager’s discontent versus the work they have been hired to do.

So, likability is important for both the leader and the people she leads.

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5. Vulnerability

Vulnerability is critical for being an inspiring leader. People want the truth. They admire leaders who can occasionally demonstrate vulnerability. It promotes deeper relationships and inspires trust.

When leaders can showcase vulnerability appropriately, they destroy the illusion that one must be perfect to be a leader. They also demonstrate that vulnerability is not a dirty word; they too can be vulnerable and ask for a helping hand when necessary.

6. Authenticity

Authenticity is about living up to one’s stated values in public and behind closed doors.

Influential leaders are authentic. They set to live out their values and use those values to guide their decisions. The interesting thing about leadership is that people are not looking for perfect leaders. They are, in part, looking for leaders who are authentic.

7. A True Understanding of Inspiration

Effective leaders are inspirational. They understand the power of words and deeds and use both strategically.

Inspiring leaders appropriately use stories and narratives to enable the teams around them to see common situations in an entirely new light.

Inspirational leaders also showcase grit and triumph while convincing the people around them that success and victory are attainable.

Finally, inspiring leaders encourage the teams they lead to tap into their own genius. They convince others that genius is not reserved for a select few but that most people have it in them.

As explained in the article True Leadership: What Separates a Leader from a Boss:

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“A leader creates visions and motivates team members to work together towards the same goal.”

8. An Ability to See the Humanity in Others

Inspiring and influential leaders see the humanity in others. Rather than treating their teams as mere tools to accomplish organizational goals, they believe the people around them are unique beings with inherent value.

This means knowing when to pause to address personal challenges and dispelling with the myth that the personal is separate from the professional.

9. A Passion for Continual Learning

Inspiring and influential leaders are committed to continual learning. They invest in their own development and take responsibility for their professional growth.

These leaders understand that like a college campus, the workplace is a laboratory for learning. They believe that they can learn from multiple generations in the workplace as well as from people from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Influential leaders proactively seek out opportunities for learning.

The Bottom Line

No one said leadership was easy, but it is also a joy. Influencing others to action and positively impacting the lives of others is a reward unto itself.

Since leadership abounds, there is an abundance of resources to help you grow into the type of leader who inspires and influences others.

More Resources About Effective Leadership

Featured photo credit: Markus Spiske via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Harvard Business Review: How to Be an Inspiring Leader

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