Summer always has a way of sneaking up on us, doesn’t it? It’s on the downhill slope after spring break, and once you add in finals and end of year activities, the months of March, April, and May practically fly by. This is good news for those of us who love summertime, but not so great news for those who tend to let the warm air and sunshine get the best of us and allow important deadlines to slip by! Perhaps it’s too late to apply for an internship or study abroad program, but fear not—there are still plenty of opportunities you can take advantage of to create a high-impact summer break.
1. Continue learning. While we often think of summer as a break from academics, it can be a useful time to take classes, whether they be courses required for graduation or unrelated courses of personal interest. Use this time to focus your efforts on more difficult material, free up time during the school year, or expose yourself to something new that wouldn’t otherwise fit into your class schedule. If you don’t want to stick around campus, consider finding a class at a local college or taking one online. Extra schoolwork not your thing? Look into non-academic classes. Pick up a new sport, develop a hobby, try something artsy. It’s not so much the content as the act of cultivating curiosity that matters!
2. Contribute to something bigger. For those of us who are maxed out during the school year, summer can be a fantastic time to become immersed in community work. Join an ongoing volunteer effort, or organize a project of your own. If there’s a way to volunteer in your field of interest and develop practical skills while doing it, I highly encourage you to do so! For me, this took the form of donating my time at a local hospital where I was able to encourage and comfort patients while assisting medical staff. The clinical exposure was invaluable to me as an aspiring physician, and meaningful encounters with patients reminded me of my motivations for pursuing a career in medicine.
3. See the world! Take advantage of your seasonal freedom to explore. Traveling opens your eyes to new ways of seeing the world and your mind to new ways of engaging with it. Not to mention the conversation starters and riveting stories you’ll come home with! Because of my major, studying abroad during the school year wasn’t an option, but I took advantage of every summer during college to visit a new place. Between study abroad programs, international volunteering, and family travel, I was able to visit eleven different countries and four different continents during those four years!
Even if you can’t travel to a new city or country, take time to explore the places around you. Go to a local library or museum to learn more about the history of your city and places of interest, or finally visit the touristy hotspots you usually avoid. You might be pleasantly surprised when you’re a tourist in your own city!
4. Prepare for the next phase of your life. Looking to score a great job after graduation? Consider how you can actively boost your professional development. Build a positive presence on LinkedIn so you can showcase your qualifications to potential employers. Seek out work experience by applying to jobs and internships. Tap into your network of Theta sisters who are ready and eager to help you succeed in all aspects of your life. Start to foster business connections through networking opportunities in and out of the office.
Aspiring to attend graduate or professional school? The summer is one of your best resources in terms of planning and preparation. Read up on application requirements and sketch a plan for how you’ll accomplish them before graduation. Study for your standardized test of choice. If essays are required for admission, start developing your personal statement. You’ll thank yourself when application season rolls around in the fall!
5. Find a passion project. What’s the one thing you always find yourself wishing you had time for during the school year? Is your ambition to start a website, launch a company, master a skill? The flexibility of your summer schedule empowers you to work toward goals that would otherwise be unrealistic. During my last summer in college, I jumped at the opportunity to complete my 200-hour yoga teacher training--a longtime dream that I had written off as being incompatible with my busy schedule--and I’ve been teaching yoga classes ever since! Making time for passion projects will keep your personal ambitions alive and impart a well-roundedness that shines through, even if not spelled out on a resume.
6. Double up! Lastly, envision creative ways to accomplish multiple goals simultaneously. For me, international research trips combined scholarly work with global exploration. Working in a doctor’s office provided vocational experience while enabling me to explore my interest in medicine. These double-headers will allow you to accomplish more during the summer months while also freeing up some time for fun!
With so many opportunities at your fingertips and a checklist to guide you (above), you have all the tools you need to experience a meaningful summer. What are you waiting for?!
Looking into pursuing a non-degree granting educational, leadership, or service-learning opportunity this summer? It's not too late to apply for Theta Foundation Individual Grants! For more information, please visit our Apply Now page.
This blog post is part of our Scholar Blogger series, showcasing four of Theta’s leading women who are sharing their experiences, insight, and advice on topics relevant to all students. Learn more about the Scholar Blogger series here.