Planning a Meaningful Sophomore Summer (page 3)
As you discovered last year, your college summers present you with a unique opportunity: a looong period of time - perhaps as much as fifteen weeks or, in other words, the equivalent of an entire school semester - away from academics. And we hope that last year you learned just how much, in terms of your goals, wants, needs, and desires, can be accomplished in this period of time.
What are you going to do with this incredible opportunity this summer?
Welcome to your sophomore summer brainstorming workshop - where you're going to come up with the antidote to a long, boring summer spent scooping ice cream at your local high school hangout, waitressing at the same club or restaurant where you worked when you were in high school, or otherwise doing the exact same things you did in the past.
Review Your Goals For Sophomore Year
The first thing you need to do is take a look at the work you did in your sophomore year goal-setting workshop and, if you followed our suggestions, at the eighteen or so "most important" goals you set for this year.
What did you identify as the things you hoped to accomplish during your sophomore year? How many of them have you actually accomplished so far? Which ones might be things you could work on this summer?
Yeah, yeah . . . we know that you're spending money like water in college and that even more than you did last summer, you really, really, really need to make money this summer. So did we. Yet despite these increasing financial pressures (which will be even worse next year - trust us), some of us figured out how to make money in really fun and interesting ways or in ways that furthered our academic, social, personal, or career goals (or a combination of these). You really can do both at the same time. Many of us did.
Explore Your Academic Interests
What have you learned about your academic interests this year? Chances are, you chose a major this year. Are there possible careers you might want to explore this summer? For example, if you chose to major in poli sci with an eye on working for a policy think tank, getting into politics, or applying to law school sometime after graduation, might there be something you could do this summer that would further illuminate that career path? Could you intern for a senator or member of Congress in Washington, D.C., doing research, shaping policy decisions, writing policy memoranda, or answering constituent letters and phone calls? Paid jobs are available doing such things, but even if you had to volunteer, you could further your career goals by doing so and then work part-time doing whatever to pay the bills. Even if all you do is deskwork, you will be making important contacts and spending your time in furtherance of your interests and goals.
If you chose a major, do you know of a particular professor in that major whose work sounds interesting to you? Maybe someone with whom you might someday take an independent study, or whom you might use as your senior thesis adviser? Is this person hiring a research assistant for the summer? Even if he or she isn't, there might be other professors in the department who have books coming out or important articles in process that need research help. Again, this is a great way to forward your goals and interests while making money at the same time.
Explore Your Extracurricular Interests
Like music? Are you proficient in an instrument or in voice such that you could make a bunch of money teaching at an upscale summer tourist destination, such as Nantucket, the Hamptons, or the Outer Banks? If you are a huge fan of a particular band or musical artist who is touring this summer, have you given any thought to trying to get a job as a roadie or T-shirt salesperson with the band? Life on the road is full of adventures . . .
Are you a varsity athlete? What about offering one-on-one skills lessons in a sport like golf, tennis, soccer, or basketball at one of those tourist spots, where well-heeled parents are more than willing to spend money to help their kids develop skills?
Explore Your Social Interests
If you determined that you want to try to become more social, you could take a summer job somewhere new, away from your hometown, where you will be forced to be social - working as a concierge at an inn or hotel somewhere, working as a waiter or waitress in a crowded tourist spot, leading tours of your college campus, or doing anything that will force you to speak in front of people and interact with strangers. Feeling comfortable in new social settings is a learned skill. If it is one you want to improve, dedicate some time to practicing it. Note that if you work as a waiter or a waitress for this reason, you are making money and advancing one of your goals at the same time.
Explore Your Interests in Travel, the Outdoors, or Physical Development
Do you love the outdoors and want to become more skilled in this area? Perhaps you could make some money this summer working as a national forest ranger or a fire monitor in a remote wilderness location, or working on a trail crew or for any of a number of wilderness preservation societies that are always looking for part-time summer help on specific projects.
If money is less of an object, might you want to combine your love of the outdoors with a spiritual quest or an effort to really get back in shape, by hiking part of the Appalachian Trail or the Continental Divide or any other part of the country?
Explore Your Interest in Politics or Administration
Is this a campaign year? Could you hook up with a political campaign as a policy analyst, speechwriter, advance person, researcher, campaign worker, or media adviser, or in any of a virtually unlimited number of other capacities?
Do you love your college and have visions of becoming an admissions officer someday? If so, a summer working in the admissions office as an interviewer is a common first step to that popular post.
Are you interested in a social issue that is addressed by a particular local, state, regional, or national agency? Might you want to work there this summer to explore your interest in the subject?
So now that you've had a chance to review your goals and interests and to kick-start your imagination, it's time to brainstorm. What is it that you want to accomplish with your sophomore summer? Grab a pen or pencil, and list a bunch of ideas. Then rejoin us to ensure that you actually take action with respect to these ideas.
Okay. Now look at the ideas you brainstormed, pick four or five of them, and put them in an order of priority from highest (1) to lowest (4 or 5) by just writing a number in a circle next to them. Go ahead, do it now.
Putting It All Together
Now I want you to think really creatively here. How could you accomplish three, four, or all five of these goals at the same time in the same summer? And how amazing do you think you would feel if you could actually pull this off?
Let's Look at an Example
Suppose you identified the following as your sophomore year summer goals:
(1) making money, (2) furthering your knowledge in your new major (art history), (3) traveling, and (4) becoming fluent in a foreign language. What could you possibly do with your sophomore summer that would make you feel fulfilled and would further the pursuit of your goals?
Obviously, procrastinating about this decision and then defaulting to working for a college painting company in your home town of Albany, Georgia, might make you some money, but you won't learn much about art history (unless you really stretch the definition), won't advance your goal to travel (you could have at least gotten out of Georgia to do this), and won't help with your fluency in anything except profanity when you're up on a ladder in mid-July in 100-degree heat surrounded by mosquitoes.
So get creative. What if you got a job working as a docent, security guard, or gift-shop clerk at the Louvre? Sure, unless you landed the docent job, your work would be pretty boring - but so too would be painting houses. You would, however, have unlimited access to the Louvre (where you could easily spend an entire summer) and be living in Paris, immersing yourself in the French language and culture. Now, instead of meeting a single goal, you'd be addressing all four of your priorities in a single job in a single summer.
How good would that make you feel?
Not an art history major, you say? Okay. Let's do it for another major.
Let's say you're a psychology major with the same interests. In asking around the department, you discover that one of your favorite professors is starting a new study of the origins of love with a colleague at the University of Rome. Your professor needs a research assistant to coordinate the development of the instruments for the study, the translation of those instruments from Italian to English and English to Italian, and the initial trials of those instruments on Italian university students in summer session. Bingo. You apply for and get the job (because it is in perfect harmony with your goals), and you spend the summer getting paid by your professor's grant to crisscross the Atlantic and spend part of your summer in Italy, speaking Italian and gaining invaluable experience in your major.
Either of these experiences would allow you to meet all four of your stated sophomore summer goals. And there are countless other jobs that would do it too.
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