Keeping Busy and Staying Focused During the Summer

Photo by user "a loves dc" on Flickr.
Photo by user “a loves dc” on Flickr.

After a year of hard work and pure stress, it’s difficult to force yourself off the couch and away from your computer screen once summer break hits. Of course, your summer break should be relaxing and fun. For students, summer vacation is a much-needed reprieve from the looming essays, projects, and exams that haunt them during the school year. But, it’s still important to mix work with pleasure over the summer months you spend away from campus. Obviously, summer is a great time to get a job and finally earn a paycheck, but summer can also be your opportunity to earn some relevant career experience or simply focus on doing what you love.

Odds are, there are a plethora of opportunities waiting for you this summer that may have never previously crossed your mind, like local internship or volunteer openings. Still, there are plenty of other ways to stay active during the summer, while still focusing on your own interests and passions. If your goal this summer is to stay busy, then look no further. Take a step away from Netflix, and see how else you can divide your time this summer.

  1. Getting a Job

Employment is nice. But, it’s not always as easy as you might like it to be to get a job, even a part-time minimum wage one. In my own experience, I have found some businesses, particularly in retail and foodservice, are skeptical about hiring college students over the summer. Why? Well, for the obvious reason: we aren’t going to be home forever. Soon enough, we’ll head back to campus, and they’ll have to begin the hiring process anew. That’s a reality many companies would like to avoid.

However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to find work this summer. Feel free to apply to as many Chipotle and Starbucks locations as you see fit. There is a strong possibility you may still land a job somewhere! But, you may find it easier to seek out a more seasonal job over the summer. Look for babysitting, nanny or yard work opportunities in your community. Is there a tourist hotspot in your town with restaurants or boutiques in search of extra summer support? Regardless, applying for a job never hurts, no matter your current experience level. Just remember to remain confident, and don’t be discouraged by a few rejections. Any employment opportunity can help you to build important career experience.

  1. Landing an Internship

Having a few internships under your belt is typically considered a must-have for college students before they graduate. Many students take on internships during the school year, but it is also possible to land one during the summer. If you live in a smaller town where you think there is little opportunity to build internship experience, don’t fret. Many nonprofits and small businesses, local to you, may be offering summer internships. Get creative during your search. You don’t need to be interning in a big city with a well-known company for the experience to be rewarding.

Keep in mind that the majority of internships available to undergraduate students are unpaid, but that is generally regarded as the norm today. Having an internship will at least keep you active and focused, and can help you get a better sense of your career goals.

  1. Engaging with Your Community

If you are not interested in an internship or cannot find one, finding volunteer work is another great option. While the volunteer opportunities you do find may not directly mirror your area of study or career ambitions, it will be easy for you to find a way to assist a cause you’re passionate about. Your local library, hospital, recreational center, senior center and other public institutions are always in need of an extra set of hands. By helping those sorts of places, you are actively engaging with your community and benefitting those closest to you. Look around, or rather, ask around, and see where your help is needed. Many nonprofit organizations are also in search of volunteers. If there is a particular political cause that resonates with you, search for an organization whose mission corresponds with your own. You may be surprised to see how many people are already working to bring about a necessary change in your community.

  1. Working Towards a Personal Goal

Do you hope to improve your diet? Or maybe you’re hoping  to take on a new hobby? Maybe you would just like to travel more, and you’d like to use your time this summer to start doing just that. Whatever it may be, you probably have some sort of personal goal that you’d like the opportunity to work toward. Focusing on that goal may be an ideal way to spend your summer break.

  1. Focusing on Your Own Project

While this may seem related to having a goal to work toward, your own project could be something more creative and specific. You might have a particular cause you would like to rally around as an activist, or an idea for a film you’d love to start working on, or perhaps you’d like to finally begin work on your novel that you’ve been planning tirelessly. These are all just ideas of what your personal project this summer might be as every individual has their own unique interests. Spending your time creating something you’re excited about can be a great way to make the most out of your summer vacation. 

No matter what road you choose this summer, or if you choose to try multiple things listed here at once, what’s important is that you have a great summer. Do what you like to do. Get involved or instead, just relax. Simply do what you can to ensure that once September rolls around, you begin the fall semester minus any summer regrets.

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