When I tell you not to waste a summer break, I think of the Gen Z childhood show, “Phineas and Ferb.” The eponymous characters spend their summer days to the fullest, never sitting still or letting their days waste away.
Disney Channel told us to make the most of our summer breaks yet engaged their audience, thus encouraging us to sit in front of the television to watch new episodes. We must be inspired by these characters from our childhood and experience the most of summer while we break from our routine fall and spring days on campus.
The last several summers, I taught sailing to youths and adults. This summer, I will be traveling through a co-sponsored study abroad opportunity between the Council on International Educational Exchange and IU to Gaborone, Botswana, doing community public health work.
But if you’re not sure how to spend your summers, here are some options. First, be an entrepreneur. Search LinkedIn or Handshake and apply for that internship or entry-level job your advisor told you to start considering as a freshman or sophomore. It is never too late to start looking at all the opportunities. If you are a first-year student, consider taking a job in retail or fast food to gain some kind of work experience.
Before I started college, I worked at Chipotle Mexican Grill for three months in high school. Even though it was not a summer job, my three months could have spanned the same time frame of a seasonal job. I learned countless skills, including communication, collaboration and accountability. You get less scared of a nightly rush and having to deal with angry customers after working a weekday fundraising night at Chipotle.
My second recommended summer opportunity is to take classes. Classes are tight-knit due to small class sizes and large amounts of work required during the condensed time frame. Managing summer courses may appear scary, but if you manage your time appropriately, they can prove beneficial to future success and further your degree progress.
I also recommend looking for research opportunities, especially if your field of study is related to the sciences. IU supplies job boards all over campus with research opportunities. If this is of interest to you, your academic advisor should have several leads in your major’s faculty department looking for student assistance.
Finally, I recommend you consider studying abroad either next semester or next summer. The IU Office of Overseas Study provides sponsored IU programs with IU faculty as well as non-IU programs.
These four opportunities would be sufficient ways to aid your summer adventures for distinctive summer experiences between your college years. I do not want to diminish the stress and anxiety that can occur from suddenly returning home in May after experiencing the freedom college provides. Adapting to different environments can be challenging to many students.
A New York Times article discusses the struggles of reintegration into the standard family after changes throughout a college year. Overbearing parents and reconsideration of personal values during the eight months spent away during the academic year proves challenging to your parents as well — they struggle watching their kids grow up.
Most parents pressure their students because they want them to perform at the best of their ability. That said, if you need a break from your family this summer, utilize plans and create an excuse not to go back home. Most leases, such as those from Tenth and College, span into the mid-summer months so you can stay in Bloomington if you’d like.
At the end of the day, summer opportunities are endless — go learn something new.
John Hultquist (he/him) is a junior studying community health with a double minor in urban planning and community development and nutrition.