Whatever you’re doing this summer—whether it’s an internship, short-term job, studying, volunteering, writing your dissertation, teaching, or something else entirely—making even a little time for self-assessment in relation to that work will pay off for you.
A good way for all of us to learn about how much we enjoy, and how good we are at, certain tasks is to observe ourselves doing those tasks. In this article, I will discuss how to work some self-assessment into your summer, and how to get the most out of your self-assessment results.
How to do a self-assessment this summer
There are several ways to assess yourself in relation to your summer activities. You should choose the one(s) that best suit you, meaning the one(s) you’ll do consistently!
Some people like to write a short journal entry at the end of each day or week expressing their reactions to what they have been doing. This can be a nice way not only to get a record of how you’re liking (and how well you feel you’re doing at) your work, but also to get thoughts and feelings out on paper (or a computer screen).
If you choose this method, be sure to do it regularly—otherwise you may end up choosing to write, for instance, only when something extraordinary occurs, thereby disproportionately representing either (or both) very good or very challenging experiences. Be sure to including those middling “regular” days in there as well!
Others prefer a list of their tasks, and a ranking scale—rating each day or week, on a scale of, say, 1 to 5, how much you enjoyed each of your tasks. How well do you feel you did at each?
When writing down your rankings, it’s important to break the tasks down as much as possible. If you are working on a dissertation, for instance, don’t just say “Research” or “Writing”. Note the smaller pieces: “Reading recent secondary texts in my field”, “Performing bench work”, “going into archive to find primary texts”, “formulating an argument”, etc. If you are interning, don’t just say “helped plan event”. Think in terms of steps: for example, “visited possible venues for event”, “assessed budget”, “talked with clients about their goals”. These breakdowns help you identify where you’re strongest and where you’re happiest! (And, where you might need work or prefer not to spend a lot of your time.)
Some people do better with self-assessment in groups or pairs. To use this method, find a partner or a bunch of friends who’d like to sit down on a regular basis and talk together about how things are going—tell one another about your experiences, like what you’re enjoying or not enjoying, and what you think about your skill level. Listen carefully to each other, and ask follow-up questions to help each person delve into your experience this summer.
Using the results of a self-assessment
Your self-assessment lets you get to know yourself better, a valuable achievement in itself. It can also help you refine your career planning, by showing you more vividly what you like to do, what kinds of work energize you, and what work you may find draining or frustrating. A self-assessment also helps you to see what work you’re good at, and what work you find doesn’t come as naturally.
To understand your assessment, think about taking some or all of the following steps:
- Ask yourself: does your self-assessment this summer surprise you in some ways? Or does it mainly confirm what you thought about your work preferences and skills?
- Come talk with a CAPS staff member about what you’ve learned from this summer and how to use it to develop the next steps in your career planning.
- Talk with friends about what you’re learning and ask what they think. Sometimes our friends have insights about us that can be very helpful in the assessment process.
- Reflect on the self-assessment as you begin to write your next round of application materials or prepare for interviews—this is a useful tool for talking about yourself effectively in relation to work.
Do you have a self-assessment success story to share, or an idea about another way to gain some perspective on your summer experiences? Leave a comment!