Updated: Aug 26
Many students have either just started or are about to start their summer break, and are thinking about how to spend it. Are you wondering whether to focus on “you time,” continue learning, volunteer, get a summer job, or work on advancing towards your chosen career? Your options may seem endless, but with a little balance, planning, organization, and prioritization, you can get exactly what you want out of your summer break.
Focus On “You-Time”
What is “you time”? Is it a movie marathon, going for a walk, volunteering, reading, or scrolling through social media? Maybe it is when you are in the middle of a television binge, or when you are talking to your friends, working out, spending hours in the depths of YouTube, listening to music, or creating art. “You time” is the time that you spend investing in your physical, psychological, and social well-being, and ensuring that your needs are met. Spending time prioritizing your well-being and needs, can help you optimize all aspects of your health and manage the demands that you may face from your job or classes when school starts again. “You time” can consist of any activity that helps you meet your needs and promotes well-being, which is why “you time” activities vary from person to person.
“You time” is something that you should always make time for, but summer break gives you a little extra time to practice and explore it. You probably know the different activities that your “you time” consists of, but your break is an opportune time to discover new activities that you may enjoy and that help you prioritize you.
If you want to stay in top academic shape, there are several ways that you can continue learning throughout your summer break. You can enroll in summer classes, get a head start on the readings for your classes in the fall, stay up to date on current events related to your classes, or speak to a student mentor who has already taken the classes that you will be taking so that you know what to expect.
Many local organizations, such as businesses, museums, and non-profits, offer summer programs for students. These programs may take the form of a class, an internship, or a volunteering opportunity, and they offer students practical learning experiences. There are also programs that allow you to spend your summer abroad taking classes that you can earn credits for. Learning coursework in a foreign country can be an incredible learning and life-enriching experience. Remember that learning does not only take place in a classroom. The world is your classroom and there are lessons that you can learn from all of your experiences.
Volunteering is a way for you to make a positive difference in the world, and can be a great opportunity for you to meet new people and learn more about yourself, your values, your community, and a cause. You can volunteer in various capacities in almost any setting. Donating your time to an individual can involve helping neighbours with tasks that they are unable to do on their own, or socially supporting individuals without a support system. At the organizational level, you can check for volunteer openings on an organization’s website or directly contact them to indicate your desire to volunteer and offer your services. Remember that you can volunteer your time to help others year-round.
Get a Summer Job
It may not be your dream job, or be in the same field as the career that you want to build, but a summer job can be helpful in various ways. A summer job will help you earn money that you can save or spend. Working can also help you expand your professional network, which can help you get jobs in the future, supply strong references for academic and job applications, and further expand your network by connecting you to other professionals in their network. A summer job can also help you learn and practice transferrable skills, such as work ethic, organization, leadership, and communication skills, that can help you in life and as you continue in your academic and professional career. The experience that you acquire through a summer job can benefit you immediately and in the long run.
Advance Towards Your Chosen Career
As a student, the career that you want can feel like it is a thousand miles away, but there are steps that you can take during your summer break to bring this goal within reach. One option is to gain experience in the field that you are aiming to work in, which you can do by working or volunteering in your chosen field, or by shadowing an accomplished professional. Staying up to date on advances and trends in your chosen field, by reading research, following the news, and staying connected with professionals in your field, can also help you advance towards your chosen career.
What Should You Do?
All of these options may seem overwhelming, but you can make the most of your summer break by taking the time to decide what you want to get out of your break and implementing strategies to help you achieve these goals. Remember that there is not one right way that you should be spending your summer break. Deciding how you should spend your break should involve you reflecting on your needs and goals.
If current conditions are impeding your summer plans, try adopting a versatile mindset to help you strategize and find new ways to gain experience in different contexts and conditions. Get creative and remember that you have the ability to make the most of your summer break. Every experience can be a learning experience and a chance to help you develop and master new skills.
How are you planning on spending your summer break?
Let us know in the comments below!