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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 April 22, 2021

How to Work Hard the Smart Way: 4 Daily Rituals to Follow

How to Work Hard the Smart Way: 4 Daily Rituals to Follow

Habits are what sets an average leader apart from a great leader. We can argue that talent is the biggest factor; we may debate how the amount of charisma sets the two apart. Yet, if you were to show me what you believed to be a great leader, I can show you the habits that made her/him great. Great leaders have great habits and know how to work hard the smart way.

Developing Great Habits Is Hard Work

In my early college days, I had spent a lot of time learning how to play the trumpet. Playing the trumpet took time and discipline. I had some natural talent, but not enough to hide my lack of ability. My trumpet teacher was a man of discipline, and there was no doubt he had talent. What stood to me was his work ethic. He had to be one of the hardest working mentors that I had the privilege of working with.

One afternoon, I was in his office getting ready for my weekly trumpet lesson. As I was preparing, my eyes scanned the room and saw that there were quotes all over his office. My eyes rested on one quote that forever changed my thinking about my playing. It was a quote from my high school basketball coach Tim Notke that would become popular through professional athletes Kevin Durant and Tim Tebow:

“Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.”

Hard work trumps talent. The key to success is not found in your talent or ability. Talent and ability are necessary, but they are not the primary factors. They are supporting roles in the story you are writing.

Ultimately, hard work is the key to your success. A good work ethic creates the momentum that propels you forward towards your goals.

Motivation Is Not the Answer

How many times have you seen someone go to a conference, get inspired, and then come home and do nothing?

If motivation were the answer, the world would have transformed hundreds of times over. Yet, when we look out our doors or turn on the news, we do not see a utopian society.

We have thousands of people who become inspired but lack the work ethic to apply anything they have learned. Time and time again frustration creeps in. We are so motivated and inspired by what we see but fail to put in place the things that would change our lives.

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Frustration happens when the gap between what you expect to be true and what is true gets bigger. Motivation tends to create an expectation that is not rooted in reality. We want to take on the world but cannot get off Netflix long enough to do so.

Motivation is not the answer, but working hard is. Good habits and routines that produce success are the byproducts of a strong work ethic. The habits and routines we create and follow are the foundation on which we build a winning life.

How to Work Hard by Working Smarter

Here are 4 routines that will help you learn how to work hard and achieve your short term and long term goals.

1. Define What a Win Looks Like

In football, a player that crosses into the end zone gain points. In soccer, a player kicks the ball into the net to score. Hockey, lacrosse, and basketball are all the same. The player takes the object and moves it into the designated area to gain points. The team with the most points wins the game.

Why is it that we can define what a win looks like in sports, but we fail to do so in our leadership, our businesses, or our homes?

Learning how to work hard without setting a target is futile. It is insanity to work hard without having a clear direction to place your energy. I would argue that defining a win is one of the most important routines that a leader can have. Defining a win separates superficial activity from meaningful activity.

When I define a win, I know the goal line I have to cross[1]. Knowing where the goal line is informs me of the activity I have to engage in to cross it. Without a clear direction, I am spinning my wheels hoping that I will get to a destination I haven’t defined. It is like asking a GPS for directions but failing to input the destination.

4 Steps to Define a Win
  • Know the outcome you desire.
  • Declare the outcome in specific, meaningful terms.
  • Write the outcome down.
  • Set your activity list to only do that which will complete your goals.

Let me give you an example. 15 years ago, I started speaking professionally. As a young and naïve speaker, I thought winning meant that I had to get a reaction from the audience. If they cheered, smiled, or cried, I considered myself a winner. The problem was my lack of understanding of what a win looked like. As a seasoned speaker, my wins look different.

As of today, when I speak, I am not looking for any emotional reactions from the audience. I win if, and only if, I clearly communicated my point so that anyone hearing the talk can take it and apply it to their lives that day. That is how I define a win when I speak now.

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Create a habit of declaring a win. When you do, you will see your productivity soar and your encouragement increase. Pairing a hard work ethic with wise decisions creates victory. Stop being a mouse on a wheel that goes nowhere, and start being the captain of your fleet.

2. Evaluate Your Activity

Not all activity is equal. There are things you must do, things you need to do, and things we can either give away or delete. The greatest challenge of a leader is understanding the difference. Understanding what activity is busywork and what activity is mission work is pivotal.

Not only do we need to learn how to evaluate our activity, but we must make this a core routine in our arsenal of success. Stop working so hard on everything and start learning how to work hard on the right things.

Not every activity will move the needle forward for you. In fact, you were never meant to do everything yourself! Once we stop trying to be a martyr in our leadership, we can start looking at how to take things off our plates through delegation.

Based on the Eisenhower box, there are 4 things that we look at when deciding on which activities are important:

  • Do now
  • Plan to do it later
  • Delegate to someone else
  • Delete it

Powerful questions are the way you discover if the activity is right or not:

  • Does this activity move me towards or away from my goals?
  • Do I have to do this activity or can I give this activity away to someone else?
  • Does this activity have to be now right now or can it be scheduled for later dates?
  • Does this activity have to be done at all?

Evaluating the type of activity you engage in should be a routine that you do daily. Learning how to work hard should create progress. Having a system of evaluation and a routine to do it will help.

3. Prioritize Your Calendar

If you were to show me your calendar, I could show you why you are not further along. When you lack the routine of placing things on your calendar, two things happen.

First, what does not make it on your calendar does not get done.

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It is a simple truth that is often overlooked. Your calendar contains the power to change your life. Yet, we don’t use our calendars to their fullest potential.

“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” -John C. Maxwell

Also, if you don’t mark you activities on your calendar, you are leaving it open to other’s priorities.

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” -Stephen Covey

Having a routine in your life where you place things on your calendar is pivotal to your success. This is not a routine one should overlook.

It’s time to take your leadership and business to the next level. It’s time to start putting your daily routines on your calendar, along with your priorities.

4. Reflect on Your Day and Plan the Next

We are all about the morning routine. Whatever that looks like for you, there should be a routine in the morning that sets you up for success.

Hard work starts when your feet hit the ground in the morning. Creating the habit of winning starts with the first thing you accomplish that morning. If you win your morning, you will win your day.

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Best Morning Routine to Prepare to Work Hard

    But how often have you heard people talk about an evening routine? Tomorrow is won the day before it happens. When you fail to plan your day, you may put your effort toward in the wrong things. Route replaces routine. Indecision replaces decisiveness. Losses replace wins. The discouragement will deflate your momentum and increases the chances of procrastination. That is why we set our schedule the night before.

    “Every battle is won or lost before it is ever fought.” -Sun Tzu

    Working hard doesn’t have to be hard work. It shouldn’t take much out of you learn how to work hard as long as you work smart. Having a time where you reflect on the day and set your priorities is the difference-maker.

    Use these questions to reflect on your day:

    • What went well?
    • What didn’t go well?
    • What can I change?
    • What do I need to start doing?
    • What do I need to stop doing?

    The Bottom Line

    Navigating through life is hard work. Yet, the work doesn’t have to be hard when you work smarter. When you create routines that support your mission, you create wins. Working hard, the smart way will tip the balance in our favor.

    Boxing legend Joe Frazier said:

    “Champions aren’t made in the ring; they are merely recognized there.”

    Champions put in the hard work behind the scenes. The world recognized them as a champion when they saw the results of the hard work. Right now, you are doing the work of creating a champion in yourself.

    That work is setting your routines in order because you now know that success flows from your daily routines. If you are not experiencing the success you desire, then it is time to change things up.

    More on Creating Healthy Routines

    Featured photo credit: Zan via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] The Balance Careers: Interview Question: “How Do You Define Success?”

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