Internship and summer program acceptances are starting to come in, and the stressful period of sending your resume and cover letter to every family friend and organization related to your career aspirations is over. Congratulations to you!
But this should not be the end of your summer preparation; you have simply created a foundation for your summer that you need keep planning.
Why Planning Is Important
Last year, I thought I had my summer planned perfectly. I planned to spend the first half of my summer at home, and the other half exploring the beautiful city of Miami while interning at a company I plan to work at some day. It ended up being one of the worst summers of my life.
I had assumed that since I lived in a coastal city, my month at home would be a responsibility-free, fantasy filled with long beach days, bonfires and late nights. Yet, I just assumed these things would happen organically. I did not check to see which friends of mine would be home and free to spend these long days at the beach with me or stay up with me all night. So instead of kickin’ it with the homies, I was kickin’ it with Netflix and reality television for a month.
“It’s okay,” I told myself, “your spending the rest of your summer in Miami, you’ll have amazing times there.” However, I knew no one in Miami, was working eight hours a day, and was too young to enjoy the Miami social scene.
Although hindsight is 20/20, I realized that figuring out where I would be this summer and having an internship was not a full plan. As an ambitious college student with multiple extracurriculars, I need constant entertainment. Therefore, it is important to realize that while the internship search is important, getting accepted to an internship or summer program should not be the end of your summer planning.
What To Do Instead
So if I could go back in time and fix my summer, I would change a few things.
To start, I should have thought about what I wanted my typical day to be like while on summer vacation, and made the appropriate steps to make that happen. Had I asked around and learned which of my friends would be home for the summer, I could have known that I was going to be alone. I would have also learned that my beach bum fantasy could not be a reality, and figured out a new goal. For me, when I got rid of all the fantasies planted in my mind by college movies and pictures from my friend’s Facebook, I realized my goal is to keep busy. So, I should have made steps towards keeping myself busy and making new friends for that month.
I should have enrolled in sailing classes, looked at organizations I could volunteer at, taken a job babysitting, or planned a road trip around the area. But I didn’t.
In addition, the fact that a 19 year-old is too young to enjoy the nightlife in a major city should not have come as a surprise to me. Again, I was too wrapped up in my fantasy of what living in Miami would be and did not think past the mandatory logistics.
Since I was going to be in a new city, I could have contacted friends from college that live near the area or even contacted the Miami chapter of my fraternity to create a social group for myself, but I figured my outgoing and social personality would be all I needed. Missed opportunities for a social base also come in the form of not going to free classes at the gym I joined and not joining any clubs that share my interests (meetup.com, check it out). Because I failed to do all of these things in advance, I watched six seasons of Doctor Who when I was not at work instead of getting to know the city around me.
It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of going to a new place this summer, getting your dream internship, or even going home. But no matter what you are doing this summer, think beyond your fantasies and where you are going to be living and working. Think about what you want to do with your summer, what you want an average day to look like, and who you want to surround yourself with, and start planning.