As kids, we viewed summer as that magic time when the weather was nicer, days were longer, and, best of all, NO SCHOOL!!! As college students, we know that summer brings a healthy dose of reality. After graduation, we'll head out into the business world and the two-month summer vacation will be a thing of the past.
For now, some of us can cling tenaciously to the summers of old by doing the travel-thing. Island paradises and old-world tours can be alot of fun, and can help us forget what awaits us after graduation. For the rest of us, summer can be a chance to get a head start on our summers to come. Here are some suggestions for productive ways to spend part (or all) of your summer:
- Get a job — Many of us could use the summer income to help pay for tuition, books, and other expenses in the fall. Don't forget, this is also a great opportunity to make valuable business contacts that could lead to full-time positions after graduation. Alternately, it's also a good opportunity to try out potential career tracks while having the built-in escape clause of 'heading back to school' in the fall. Experience is always useful, especially in your major/career track.
- Be an intern — The next best thing to getting a paying job is to be an intern. Like a job, this gives you valuable experience and helps you make business contacts. It's especially useful for freshmen and sophomores who haven't yet decided on a major, since you can try out things without jeopardizing your GPA. Check with your counseling center at school or your local Chamber of Commerce to find out about intern opportunities near you.
- Try summer school — Summer is a great opportunity to take a class that would normally be a back-breaker for you. The semesters tend to be shorter, with longer and/or more frequent class times that make learning a bit easier. For example, I got a D in Calculus my first year (not good for a math major!) so I took it again over the summer and aced it. A friend of mine who had difficulty with languages took Spanish over the summer semester; the longer class hours had more of an immersion experience and she passed easily. (It didn't hurt that she interned with an exchange student from Central America!)
- Mix fun and learning — Vacations can be a learning experience as well as a fun way to pass the summer. Try a tour of small Mexican towns where you speak only Spanish, a humanitarian mission to Kenya, or an architectural tour of China. Step outside of your comfort zone and experience other cultures. As Ferris Bueller says, "Life is short, if you're not careful you'll miss it."
Eyes wide and mind open,