The end of the semester is three weeks away. I don’t know about you guys, but the closer we get to finals week, the more narrow my vision gets. I forget about everything except finishing that last project and making another flashcard set. So before that mania really takes hold, it’s important to know what you’re doing for the summer. And if you’re someone who does not have a summer internship in your field, this is not the time to panic. Your summer can still be very productive and helpful, even if you don’t have an official position. So let's take a few minutes now a make a plan for your summer so that after finals week, you can take a bit of a breather then hit the ground running.
Your first goal should be to build skills. There are a lot of options in this area. You can take summer classes through UMBC, find massive open online courses (a lot of these are free!), or even begin preparing for the classes you’ll take next semester. Even something like watching youtube tutorials about a topic you’re interested in can be helpful. Focus on expanding or deepening your skills in a few areas of your major this summer. You’d be surprised how far that can go.
Next, build experience. “But Emily”, you might say, “the whole reason I’m reading this article is because I don’t have an internship or job coming up! How am I supposed to build experience?” Well, never fear. Experience comes in many shapes. If you want to build professional experience, consider finding a regular summer job. It might not be your first choice, but even jobs way outside of your major can be helpful in the future. They help develop professional skills and cultivate references. If you want to build experience in your field, consider working on personal projects and freelancing. Not only do these look great on your resume, but they can also help you build relevant skills to your major and interpersonal skills that you’ll use for the rest of your life.
Finally, consider volunteering. Charities and nonprofits need your time, and the work can be fulfilling and rewarding. There are even options in your major! Be sure to talk to the Shriver Center for more details, or coordinate through a local nonprofit. Volunteering is a great way to fill a few hours and round out your resume, all while helping people.
So there you have it. How to spend your summer without an internship. I personally suggest dividing your time in a 2:3:1 ratio between skills, experience, and volunteering respectively. So if you want to dedicate around 20 hours a week to productivity, spend 6 of them building skills, 10 of them gaining experience, and 3 of them volunteering. You’ll finish your summer strong and ready to take on whatever comes next with a killer resume in your corner!