By Caroline Levchuck, Yahoo! HotJobs
Summer and all its trappings -- reduced hours, vacations, lazy days -- are terrific. But did you know you can still get serious about your career while you're having fun in the sun?
Follow these four steps to be prepared to reach new heights this fall.
Draw the Line Online
Social networking sites can be fun, but if you're serious about getting serious about your career, it's time to move your online networking to a more purposeful level. Delete any profiles that exist on sites catering primarily to adolescents, and migrate to a structured professional networking site. You may lose a thousand "friends" or so, but you'll likely gain much more viable business contacts.
Take a Trip with Purpose
Unplugging from work can make you a more productive professional, but you may consider combining business and pleasure on your next getaway. Instead of just sitting on a beach for a week, why not visit a city or site that is critical to your vocation? You may even arrange a tour of an industry leader's facilities. Newspapers, television studios and manufacturers are just a few of the types of businesses that offer an inside look at their workings.
Or use your vacation as an opportunity to fill out the "volunteer activities" portion of your resume by volunteering with Habitat for Humanity or another worthy cause.
Do a Little Academic Planning
You can take it easy this summer, but if you want to get ahead come September, get a catalog from your local university and enroll in a class for the fall. Choose a course that will help you do your current job better or one that helps you move into management. Involve your supervisor so she knows you're serious about advancing your knowledge -- and so that she may help you get reimbursed for the course.
Put a Little Business in Your Beach Reading
Society has become more than a little obsessed with pop culture. While it's fun to be in the know about Lindsey Lohan's jail stint when you're standing around the water cooler, it's better to be in the know about the most recent business and management trends when you're trying to be taken seriously.
So instead of taking a celebrity tabloid to the beach, start tackling the latest and the greatest business books or magazines. If you're not sure where to start, ask your boss what his management must-reads are. Also, consult The New York Times' hardcover best sellers, which is updated every week. Or get in the habit of reading the business section of your local newspaper as a way to stay more informed.