Skip to main content
Beedie School of Business › Human Resource Management, Beedie School of Business › Accounting
SFU Student

Multiple laptops on a table with other things
Before summer starts, set SMART goals and prepare an action plan to make the most of your time.

Summer semester is coming soon, and most university students get summer jobs or take time off from school. I did the same last summer and planned my break in a way that allowed me to make the most of it. Before the start of the summer semester, take some time to plan SMART goals to achieve and prepare an action plan. SMART is an acronym, which stands for:

Specific – The actual thing you want to do. The clearer you are, the better your chances are that you can achieve it.

Measurable – What you think will happen or the result when you achieve your goal. It helps you measure your success and to set benchmarks.

Attainable – Do you think it's worth the effort you are putting in achieving it?

Relevant – Is the task going to help you achieve something you are looking to achieve and is it relatable to your overall plan?

Timely – Will you be able to achieve your goal in the desired time frame?

In many of my business courses, I have taken I was taught about this technique and how this technique is used in various places to set realistic goals. Setting goals through this technique helps you to understand better what your goals are and how you will be able to reach them. In addition to setting goals, developing an action plan will also help you stay on track. The ideas and goals you have will be difficult to execute if you do not prepare an action plan. The action plan is something that helps you identify your end goals and a checklist to keep you on track. The plan may include things like the resources you need, deadlines and benchmarks to measure your progress. Below, you will find some ideas of things you can do to make most of your summer break.

Learn a New Skill, or Two:

The job market is getting more competitive day by day, and you need to stand out in the crowd if you want to land your dream job. To stand out from your competitors, apart from having a great work experience, you need to have skills to perform efficiently in your new role. Take some time in summer to learn some skills like web design, Adobe Photoshop, public speaking, referencing, cooking, etc. One thing that most students at SFU don’t know is that we have free access to the tutorial site LinkedIn Learning (formerly through the SFU Library website's Databases. Here you can learn about programs such as Photoshop, Prezi and Microsoft Office in great detail. I found these programs useful throughout my time at SFU, as they have helped me to create unique presentations and marketing proposals. There is also various organizations around Vancouver that offer one-month courses that you can enroll in to enhance your skills. Table Smarts is an organization that offers a great course on dining etiquette, one of the essential skills everyone should possess. Brainstation is another example of an organization in Vancouver which offer short courses on web development, and user interface design.


Take some time and travel to another city or county. Going to a new place will allow you to discover new things and to have new experiences. Usually, traveling between neighboring countries is affordable and may easily fit into your budget. For example, if you are going to visit a European country, consider doing a European country tour as it is cheaper to travel in between countries. Once you know where you want to go, start planning your budget and the logistics of your trip. For flight bookings, the earlier you book, the better the deal you can find. Always look for sales and ask for student discounts, as there are a lot of companies who offer this. To book a flight, I would recommend looking at Flight Network as they have plenty of discounts and other offers. Choose accommodation based on your budget so you can more easily afford the trip and have a bit more to spend on doing activities while you are away.


Giving back to the community is one of the best things that you can do in your life. Through volunteering, you not only help others but allow yourself to grow in the process. There are a ton of opportunities that you can take part in such as SFU’s annual sports camps. During these camps, volunteers are needed to lead groups of young children and engage them in education and recreational activities. Many other organizations like Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver hire mentors for their programs to help young children. Volunteering will also help you build up new skills and gives you a sense of achievement when your mentees learn and grow from your advice.


In starting to build your online social presence, blogging is an excellent way to start. It is a great way for you to add a new feather in the basket of your skills. Having a blog is a great way to share your experiences and your story. I highly recommend blogging your experiences, whatever you do, whether you learn about something or want to reflect on a conference that you attended. This is a document of your experience, a recording of what you did, as well as a source of guidance for those who are planning to do or thinking about doing the same thing so that they too can make most of their experience. Our Learning Community (known as “The OLC”) at SFU has a great blog platform on which SFU students can share their valuable advice and experience with the university community and beyond. Learn how you can write for the OLC here.

So, before summer starts, set SMART goals and prepare an action plan to make the most of your time. Also, consider some of the ideas I have suggested, but feel free to get out there and find your own opportunities and adventures! Should you have any questions, do not hesitate to reach out to me (see my contact info below under "Beyond the Blog"). 

SFU Student
Connect with Ali on LinkedIn and Twitter Ali is a 3rd year student, pursuing a Bachelors in Business Administration with a concentration in Human Resource Management and Accounting. Currently he is an elected Senator and working as a Community Advisor at Simon Fraser University Residence. He likes to assist others to overcome the challenges that they face because he believe that: “Life is not measured by the number of days you live, but the number of lives you inspired, so be someone's inspiration.” He has volunteered more than 2000 hours with 25+ organizations in Canada and Pakistan and have mentored 100 plus students at Simon Fraser University in different facets.
visibility  145
Apr 5, 2016

You Might Like These... Volunteering, Community Engagement, Professional Development, Personal Development, Life Balance

STC West Coast
Alumnus Profile: How Crystal Kwon Advanced Her Career Through Volunteerism

Students often overlook one important benefit of volunteerism. While students realize that scholarships and bursaries usually require community engagement, they often forget that volunteerism can also give you the edge you need after you finish your degree.

Kyle and volunteers
Kyle Jung: Expand Your Horizons through Volunteering

Did you know that you can make a difference through volunteering, as well as discovering your passions and career goals? These are just some of the benefits of volunteering, according to Kyle Jung, a 5th-year SIAT student who is also the Vice President of Operations, Interactive Arts & Technology Student Union (IATSU) and the SFSS Forum Representative.

Jordan Robinson: Volunteer, Learn & Have Fun!

Do you want to improve your writing and communications skills? Do you want to meet other SFU students? If you answered “yes” to any of the two questions, becoming a peer educator may just be right for you! Let Jordan Robinson, a 4th-year Sociology student, tell you what valuable skills and experiences.

You Might Like These... Personal Development

Article Banner that depicts a senior
10 Tips for Working with Seniors

For some, seniors can be intimidating and difficult to work with. However, after working as a Student Kinesiologist with 6-8 different clients on a daily basis, Matthew has compiled a list of 10 tips and tricks to help anyone working with seniors in any context, not just kinesiology.  

Carolyn smiling with co-workers; digging a fireguard for a controlled burn
Try Before You Buy

Many are aware of the multitude of benefits Co-operative Education has to offer. However, some fail to consider the less obvious but equally important advantages.  Co-op is a significant means of determining where you belong and where you fit in the world of work.