Ahhh, its almost here. Summer time. No more midterms, all night study sessions, or roommates keeping you up late making out with their significant others 5 feet from you while you pretend to sleep (but I digress). Freedom! But what to do now?
There are a million different ways you can spend your time this summer break. Although college may feel like its extremely difficult and you deserve 3 months of sleeping in, lying on the couch watching TV and eating pop tarts, the hard truth is this: college is easy compared to the real world, no matter what you end up doing. You need to take advantage of this time you have! Never again will you have the excuse of “I am a student on summer break” to be free and make choices! I recommend working and/or travelling. No matter what you do, you need to have a purpose for it. Here are a few recommendations:
-Start a Small Organization/Business
This may sound daunting, but its easier than you think! You can start a small business with little to no capital and leverage your “student” label. Mowing lawns, making a clothing line, or organizing a fundraiser walk are all easy examples. My friend and I started and ran a landscaping company for 2 summers in college. We charged hourly mostly and used our clients’ own tools and supplies. If we had to rent any supplies or dump the waste, we would mark up the cost. Essentially we provided strong backs for mid/upper class households who already had landscaping supplies. To start, we email blasted our parents’ friends and put up a few flyers around the neighborhood. We emphasized the fact that we were students working hard to help pay for school and school expenses. It worked out great! We made our own schedules and earned cash. Most importantly, we learned valuable lessons about starting a company from the ground up with nothing. Marketing, how to deal with upset customers, and the power of referrals were some of the key takeaways. I was even able to use the company for business school projects during the school year. Do some brainstorming and JUST GET IT STARTED! The rest will fall into place.
-Travel, in any Capacity
Don’t have any money to travel? That is just an excuse, trust me. If you really want to travel, you will get creative and figure it out. Think about the friends you have made in school and go check out their hometowns. You never know the people you will meet on these trips. There are rideshare options on Craigslist. People do all sorts of crazy things to travel with no money. The key is getting started! Once you get a taste, you will want more and do whatever it takes to keep going. My recommendation is to save up some money and take a month to go somewhere. Keep your schedule extremely flexible, and stay in hostels or campgrounds whenever possible. This increases your chance of meeting other awesome unique travelers and hearing their stories and advice. Often you will get invited along wherever they are headed or at least hitch a ride to the next spot! You will learn to live off of very little and the relationships forged are invaluable.
-I use wikitravel.org
to quickly explore a place online or figure out my next destination.
provides dirt cheap bus tickets in all areas of the world.
is an awesome tool where you can meet locals and often crash on their couch for free! These people are excited to meet you and show their city to you. Go outside of your comfort zone; that’s what its all about.
is a handy site that will show you places to camp for free all around the U.S.
is an easy way to find and book a hostel. Travelling alone? Stay in a room with multiple beds to meet new people. This is the best way an introvert like myself is forced to socialize and meet awesome adventurous people!
-I also recommend using the Tinder or Bumble app in the city you are in to meet locals.
-Find a Work/Travel Program
This is a great way to afford living in a new place for a short period of time. Meet people from all over and learn a new trade! A lot of times these skills you learn (waiting tables, operating machinery, fishing in Alaska, etc.) can be a great fallback option if times ever get tough down the road. Check out Backdoorjobs.com
for a list of summer opportunities. Also, check out my previous post on Seasonal Work
, which I HIGHLY RECOMMEND if you have the opportunity to do for just the summer.
-Buckle Down and Study
Paying your own way through college? Ready to move on to the next step? Stay on campus and bang out some credits. You will notice the smaller community and classes on campus can be more intimate and fun, leading to some closer relationships that otherwise would have never forged.
-Find an Internship
Internships never appealed to me. Why go to work for free or little pay if that is what I am going to do after college? Well, beside the obvious experience you will gain on your resume, its really an opportunity to give your desired vocation a trial run. Getting in the trenches in your field is the best way to see what day to day life is like. When the internship only lasts a couple of months, you have a definitive end date and you do not have to worry about quitting if you do not like it!
These are just a few of your options. Take some time to brainstorm your options. Think about your resources. Reach out to people and understand your opportunities on how to spend the summer. Once you understand your opportunities, write down a list of pros and cons. Talk to others about your options and listen to what they have to say. Once you decide, go all in on it! Decide that is what you are doing and do the absolute best job you can. And hey, if you end up hating it, Fall Semester is just around the corner!