Summer goes quick. No matter what you’re doing for the summer (or if you even know), it’s going to go fast. I can certainly attest to this from experience. I’ve spent summers doing just about everything–working, training for sports, taking classes abroad (in Tanzania), and doing independent thesis research (in Kenya). The thing all of them had in common is that they all seemed like they were over before I knew what happened. And while I generally had a great time doing all of them, at the end there were always things that I wished I would have done or accomplished (and that I would have done or accomplished if I had made it an explicit goal up front).
Know what you’re doing.
Maybe this sounds like pointless advice if you haven’t secured the dope internship, summer job, or affordable travel opportunity you wanted. Don’t take this point to be stress-inducing. If you’re really determined to do one of those things, keep at it (and we’ll have more later this week on how to find a last-minute internship). But don’t feel bad if you don’t have as impressive of summer lined up as some of your friends. It’s not the end of the world to be at home or on campus. Just plan what you’re doing there.
– If you’re going to be at your parents’ house, don’t just “be at your parents’ house.” Think of what you want to accomplish while you’re there. Do some writing. Make funny videos. Hike and explore. Take artsy photographs. Practice photo editing or graphic design. Learn a new sport. Learn to code (codecademy is good). Learn a language (duolingo).
– If you’re working, are you just working? Or are there side things you want to accomplish?
– Set these goals up front, but be realistic about what you’ll be able to accomplish. Don’t try to take on everything only to get overwhelmed and achieve none of it.
Know why you’re doing it
Internships, jobs, camps, travel, studies. These things are all great. But you’ll always get much more out of them if you’re explicitly clear on why you’re doing them. Are you going into this internship with the goal of making friends and/or contacts who can help you later, to build specific skills, or to gain work experience in general (or all of the above)? Are you traveling to make friends? To “find yourself?” To write or blog or photograph? To learn about new places and things? Again, they aren’t mutually exclusive, but you should consciously lay out those goals now.
Know how you’re going to do it
Goals don’t just accomplish themselves. Setting goals is great, but you’ll never get them done without a plan for how. When are you going to do these things? What steps are necessary? What’s the gameplan?
I hope it’s not super necessary for me to say this. Summer is the best. Don’t let pressures of having a ‘productive’ summer keep you from also having a kickass time with your friends. Because unless you become a teacher or an NBA player, there won’t be any summer break once you hit the real world. Savor it now.