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Laundry On Sundaes

Every beginning is only a sequel, after all, and the book of events is always open halfway through.

NOTE: Somehow found this reallllly old post from back when I was still a college senior, haha. There is still a lot of helpful information in here so I’m going to post this now. If you’re still in college, I hope you find this useful!

I was talking with a freshman who was in one of the campus organizations I was in last semester, and when asked what his plans were for the summer, he replied “oh I don’t know, I think I’ll just sit on my butt and watch TV”. I sincerely hoped that he was joking, but from his tone, it didn’t sound like it.

I know that when you were a kid, summers really were the time you didn’t do anything productive and probably watched TV all day, or ran around on the lawn, or had fun in camp, or maybe even had a summer job at the grocery store, or whatever. But once you’re in college it’s different. You actually have to do stuff in the summer. Useful stuff. Stuff you can put on your resume and can talk about during interviews for grad school or jobs. As tempting as it is to just relax and have fun all summer or go back to the Starbucks job you’ve had since high school, don’t. So what are you supposed to do? Here are some of the most popular options.

1. Take summer classes.

I’ve never done this myself, but lots of people do it and it certainly has many advantages. You can get ahead on the road to graduation, or maybe catch up on requirements you might have missed. Summer classes -often have smaller class sizes, therefore offering more faculty-student interaction. You are also probably better able to focus your studying on 1 or 2 summer classes, as opposed to 5 or 6 in a regular semester. So it’s a good option if you need or want the credits!

2. Do research.

If you’re a science major like me and want a career in healthcare or research, then doing research as an undergrad is a must. Summer is prime time to find a position as a research assistant in a lab, and this may come in many different forms. There are a ton of summer research programs out there, and many of them are paid (though often not much). If you can’t find or can’t get into one of these programs, you can always just contact professors directly. Most profs are open to getting more help in their lab, especially if you volunteer (see below).

3. Volunteer.

I know you might feel like making any money at all is better than doing free labour, but trust me, in the long run, your summer volunteer work will mean much more than a retail job at the mall. Volunteering can also come in many different forms. For example, I volunteered as a research assistant my summer after freshman year in a lab. Volunteer to work in an organization you’re interested in, and maybe it will eventually even turn into a paid job! Another way to volunteer is to join an international volunteer organization and go abroad. But these programs usually cost money, so not only will you have to pay, some companies or grad schools may even be wary of them because they might think you just paid for an experience. Still, volunteering is another great option for summer.

4. Do an internship.

No matter your major or intended career, doing internships is beneficial or even essential. Interning is a great opportunity to explore a potential career, build your skills in the workplace, and network. Plus, you will make some money! Start looking early – many internship programs start accepting applications in the fall. Look online by searching “summer internship in _____”, look in the career section of companies you’re interested in, and talk to a counselor at your school’s career center. Most summer internships are likely very competitive, so apply early and apply to many!

And if you want extra challenge and excitement – you can do any of the above abroad! Like I did with my research internship in Vienna. It was one of the most amazing yet challenging experience of my life (you can read more about that here)!

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