Stay Sharp: Why Practicing Your Skills Over the Summer Makes Sense

Summer is right around the corner, and if you’re anything like me when I was in school,
thinking about lounging in the sun for three months is one of the most prominent things in your
mind right now. It’s important to let your mind and body relax after completing a school year of
hands-on, rigorous training and learning at Pickens Technical College, but you also have to think
about your skills and your career after graduation.
PTC makes it easy to transfer knowledge from the classroom to the job, but it’s up to you
to learn and maintain the skills that will make your career. Summer vacation is the perfect time
to identify areas that you might not be as strong in within your field and focus on those weak
points to round out your abilities.
This is especially helpful and important if you’re in the middle of a two-year program or
if you plan on getting more education in your area later on. Maintaining your skills also helps
you stay sharp for the fall, when Human Resources folks, hiring managers, and other company
officials come back from their vacations ready to hire new blood.
Remember elementary school, when the teachers or librarians would challenge you with
a summer reading list? As much as I love reading, I didn’t particularly care for the idea of
homework over the summer. But there was a reason why teachers did this. They didn’t want to
have to essentially start all over again with their students when they returned to school in the fall.
The more reading their students did over their three-month vacation, the better prepared to learn
they were in the fall.
In a specialized field like the one you’re likely training for at PTC, staying sharp is even
more important. Even with all the advantages you get from earning a certification at PTC or
completing a program there, you’ll still be competing with who-knows-how-many other job-
seekers when it comes time to use your skills to start a career. So the sharper you are when it
comes time to hire people, the better chance you’ll have of getting that job.

If you’re returning to school, either at PTC or another college, you’ll be ready to learn
and pick up where you left off if you spent time working on the weaker areas of your skills. Just
like the NBA players who shoot hundreds of shots by themselves in the gym, developing muscle
memory is highly important for many of the skills PTC teaches.
There are many ways to approach this. Check in with your instructor to see if they have
any kind of summer availability in PTC shops or other hands-on learning environments. If you’re
in the Automotive Technology Program, for example, see if you can get in for a few hours to
work in the auto shop on campus. Another option is to look for internships or volunteer
opportunities at organizations outside of PTC. Seek out a few of the companies you’re likely to
apply to and try to get a foot in the door, even if it’s just meeting someone for coffee, that’s a
valuable connection.
Don’t work yourself too hard this summer, but remember that your skills could always
use improvement, and everyone’s competency needs to be maintained with practice. Summer
vacation is the perfect opportunity for this.

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