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No Internship? Here Are 4 Ways to Have a Productive Summer Without One

This post is from a student, parent, or professional contributor. The opinions expressed by the author are their own and do not necessarily reflect the positions, viewpoints, or policies of Niche.

Sunscreen, ice pops and canon balls off the deep end.

Remember those days in elementary and middle school when summer was something to look forward to?

As much as I still enjoy the summer months, being a college student means feeling the constant pressure to be doing something.

I’ve noticed some of my classmates landing prestigious internships and research opportunities. However, if you’re in high school or in your first years of college, recruitment can be extremely difficult.

COVID-19 has changed our lives in more ways than we count.

For the class of 2020 and 2021, our most pivotal moments were pulled out from under us. Isolation from friends, graduation on Zoom…the list goes on and on. It’s important to understand that everyone is experiencing limitations in one way or another. Especially after such a stressful year, students should prioritize their mental health and work-life balance.

The best approach this summer is to find time for yourself, but also keep your mind active so that you’re ready when school starts back up in the fall.

Here are some ideas to consider if a job, internship, or research position isn’t a viable option for you:

4 Ways to Stay Over Productive Summer Break

Learn a New Language (or Strengthen Your Skills in One)

Learning a language is rewarding for so many reasons.

For one, it can help you connect with people from different backgrounds. Part of developing language skills is learning how to appreciate another culture’s art, traditions and history. Today’s world is so interconnected that developing understanding of those different from you is essential for any career path.

In addition, being multilingual is helpful for one’s job prospects. Knowing multiple languages makes you a valuable asset for connecting with different types of customers and coworkers. The ability to communicate with a wider range of people opens you larger variety of opportunities and relationships. 

If you want to learn a language free of cost, there are many resources available. Duolingo offers lessons in 23 different languages. I took Japanese throughout my four years of high school, and then I used Duolingo’s app during the summer to help retain the information I had learned during the school year. 

Take Online Classes

Summer is a great time to develop your professional skills.

Try to find a class on something your high school/university may not offer. For example, if you’re interested in the business field and want to develop your communication skills, you could take a free online course in public speaking.

Online courses are also helpful if you are interested in multiple fields of study and want to explore several topics without overpacking your school schedule.

Online courses don’t have to cost a fortune, either. Coursera offers free courses with professors from institutions like Johns Hopkins, Stanford and Yale. I also recommend taking a look at LinkedIn Learning, Udacity and Udemy

Although costly, taking university courses can help lessen your course load during the academic year.

My university has a long list of general education requirements (GERs) that need to be completed before graduation. Many of my classmates return home and complete foreign language GERs at their local community colleges so they have more space for major-related courses during the fall and spring.

However, if finances are already a strain, I would strongly recommended against taking summer courses within your university. 

Start a Side Project You’re Passionate About

Last summer, I became extremely interested in sustainable fashion, specifically thrifting and repurposing clothing. I decided to start a small business on the app Depop, and it helped me save significant funds for college.

If you’ve had an idea lingering in the back of your mind but never had time to do it, this is your time to shine!

Even picking up a hobby like embroidery or hip-hop dancing can lead to something bigger if you enjoy it enough.

Try making a mental list of all the things you’ve never tried but showed interest in. Maybe you’ll find a new passion that you never considered possible.

Some things my friends explored during the summer include filmmaking, learning how to code, and volunteering for an animal shelter.

Find Someone That Inspires You

During the school year, I find it difficult to take a step back and think about what I want to do in the future.

One thing that I enjoy doing during the summer is talking to people in different occupations to learn more about why they picked their job and what they enjoy about it.

Because of COVID-19, I understand that face-to-face interaction may be difficult, so even small steps like following your role models on Instagram, watching Ted Talks on YouTube, or reading books by your favorite authors is just as effective. 

Enjoy Summer, But Stay Sharp

It can be hard to be productive during the summer when we don’t have a set schedule, but that’s OK!

Give yourself time to recharge and tackle your goals one at a time.

I hope that this summer will be the beginning of a return to normalcy.

Hopefully, you’ll learn something new or discover something new about yourself this summer.

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Author: Abby Lau

Abby Lau ​is currently a freshman at Emory University, where she intends to major in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology and minor in Global Health. She hopes to one day work in the healthcare field. When she isn’t writing, she loves to journal, thrift clothing, explore Atlanta’s food scene, and bake more cookies than her family can eat.