Fun Career-Boosting Ideas to Try This Summer

By Paula Fitzsimmons

It’s the middle of winter. Which makes it the perfect time to start shaping up your summer plans. Whether you’re a student, career changer, or are already working in the field, summertime is the ideal time to pick up a new skill or credential.

Look at the following for ideas on making the most of your summer – both personally and professionally.

Find seasonal work

Organizations are starting to hire their seasonal workers now.  Do you have your resume or CV ready to go? How about a cover letter?

Where to search for openings . . .

• Locally. Are organizations in your area hiring? Think shelters, rescues, sanctuaries, advocacy organizations, conservation organizations, and local government agencies.

• Check job boards such as FlexJobs, SeasonalEmployment, and USAJobs. (FlexJobs is an affiliate link).


Sea turtle diving
Pick up a new skill

What would you like to learn that’s fun and will help you be more competitive in your job search?

For instance, are you interested in a marine biology career? How about using this time to get your scuba diver’s license?

Thinking of a nonprofit career in fundraising (a hot field, by the way)? How about an intro to grantwriting course? It doesn’t have to be anything too intense . . . remember, it’s summer, so it shouldn’t be drudgery.

Where to search for classes . . .

• Community colleges and university extension offices are prime places to find decent non-credit and continuing education courses.

• Check with professional organizations in your field of interest for certification courses. Want to pursue dog training? Try Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. Thinking of becoming a companion animal sitter? You’ll want to check Pet Sitters International’s Certificate in Professional Pet Sitting Program.


Give your time & get back

Volunteering not only makes you feel good (there is scientific evidence for this), but is also a great resume builder. You gain meaningful experience, get to test-drive careers, snag a job reference, build important relationships – and maybe even land a permanent job. It’s a winning proposition.

Where to search for opportunities. . .

• It’s the rare animal welfare organization that doesn’t have some sort of volunteer program. Check with your favorites for opportunities – if they’re anything like the organizations I’m familiar with, they’d love to have you.

• Two reliable websites for finding volunteer opportunities are Idealist and VolunteerMatch.


Volunteer with chimpanzees
Take a (working) vacation

If you’re planning a trip, why not make it a working vacation.

Where to search for working vacations – also referred to as volunteer vacations . . .

• Check with your favorite animal welfare organizations. For instance, Chimpanzee Sanctuary & Wildlife Conservation Trust offers several visitor programs at Ngamba Island in Uganda, including Caregiver for a Day. And Oceanic Society’s expeditions include studying manatees, sea turtles, and other marine creatures.,

• Check with colleges and universities. You don’t necessarily have to be a student to learn about opportunities, either. Try career services or ask an adviser in a department such as wildlife ecology or prevet for their suggestions.

• Organizations that specialize in volunteer vacations, including EarthWatch and Global Vision International.


Attend an event

Conferences and seminars are fertile places for learning and making connections. The event doesn’t necessarily have to be animal protection-related, either. Are you considering a career in writing, nonprofit administration, or art? Where there’s a field of interest, there’s bound to be a professional organization representing it.

Where to search for events. . .

• Nonprofit organizations. For instance, Best Friends will hold their National Conference in July this year; and Animal Sheltering‘s Animal Care Expo is in May.

• Check online calendars for information on upcoming animal welfare events. Two online directories are offered by Petfinder and World Animal Net.


Summer may be months away, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start thinking ahead to summer. Matter of fact, the sooner you get started on applying, the better chance of not getting left behind.

What are your summer plans?


Image credits: Sea turtle #34611199; and Chimpanzee #30495164 from

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