For college students, summer vacation is both a blessing and a curse—the three solid months of free time gives us the opportunity to do what we really want. Unfortunately, what we really want to do is a whole lot of nothing. I’ve fallen victim to days spent in bed far too often. Because of this, I thought it prudent to make a list of things to do over summer break that can substantively impact your life.
This one is probably the most obvious since internships are practically a requirement for a lot of 21st-century careers. Interning is one of the best ways, if not the best way, to increase your chance of getting hired after graduation. Internships can help enhance your knowledge of the industry you want to be in, and will give you the ability to see and experiment with different jobs in the field.
Internship experience also gives you a competitive advantage over other job applicants as you have access to better networking and marketing strategies, as well as potentially life-changing letters of recommendation.
Classes and Other Academic Activities
This point includes a wide range of things, from studying abroad to taking summer classes online. Summer classes are a solid option, whether transferred over from a local community college (a huge plus, since they tend to be way cheaper) or done at the college you’re attending (also great, since it can boost your GPA).
Taking summer classes offer a lot of benefits: generally smaller class size, which can help secure close relationships with professors or great letters of rec; online access which allows you to pace yourself and therefore work around your other vacation plans; and generally staying on-time with your degree plan.
Other academic activities can include undergraduate research with a professor in your field, or major-related projects and organizations or clubs.
There are a lot of simple benefits to working. For one, it gives you money. A meaningful job can also pass the time while keeping you engaged and happy. Since it’s summer vacation, tons of places increase the number of new hires that they take on. By taking advantage of this, you can add a line on your resume and show responsibility, a solid work ethic, and drive.
Volunteering, especially when done with an organization related to your major or chosen field, can add an incredibly meaningful line to your resume. Even if you volunteer in an adjacent field, you can gather experience and networking opportunities unique to these areas. Many people also see volunteering as a more ‘meaningful’ or interesting form of work, which can help pass the time much faster.
Planning for Your School Year
This can include working on a thesis or deciding a topic, making writing samples or editing past writings, brainstorming for future class projects, or reading. There’s a lot to be said for staying up-to-date on your field’s research! Reading academic journals can help you decide what sub-field you would like to pursue, and enhance your knowledge of many academic topics.
Start a new project or explore an interest! If none of the above ideas seem particularly exciting, remember that you can always do non-academic things that still help build your skills and add lines to your resume. Keeping a journal, learning a new language, or doing something new with friends can all help you stay focused, educated, and marketable.
Even if all you want to do is watch movies, make sure to do it in the best way! Maxim and the Wall Street Journal both recently released lists of the best movies from the 21st century so far, which can guide your intellectual and cinematographic pursuits through the summer months.
Remember, above all, that you should focus on using your time to the best of your ability. No matter what you do, there’s always a way to do it meaningfully and strategically!