It’s the time of the year when high school students are recieving their college admittance letters, and graduating college students are deciding which graduate schools to attend or searching for jobs and other opportunities to further their professional development.
These are all exciting opportunities for students on the cusp of new phases of their lives, but for students who are past the beginning stages of college but aren’t yet ready to consider graduate school, the future isn’t always so certain.
If you find yourself in the position of not knowing how to take on the summer ahead, like many college students around you, there’s no need to fret. There are many other ways students can maximize their professional and personal development than just through a job or internship, and experience the same fulfillment as their peers beginning new phases of their lives at new institutions.
Although growth is something college students value, the difficult question is where to start. This is often up to the individual, but there are some ways that can be applicable to everybody.
According to Mandy Devereux from Career Development, the best way for all students to effectively utilize the summer is to build their networks.
“The best time to build your network is before you need it,” said Devereux.
Therefore, the next best step to actually getting an internship is contacting professionals in your field of choice or in areas that interest you. This can give you a taste of what it’s like to work in that field, even if you’re not directly experiencing it.
This network building process can be started as easily as by contacting Willamette alumni on LinkedIn. Simply gaining information about what it’s like to work at a given job and hearing testimonies from people who’ve gone through what you’re going through now can be very valuable for the future and show you’re interested in building connections through genuine interactions.
In addition to building your network, another way for students without internships to stay busy over the summer is to continue working towards their goals by pursuing further educational opportunities. This can be done in many ways, such as by taking classes at another university, prepping for the GRE General Test or even engaging in experiential learning.
Experiential learning can be broken down into many categories, some opportunities arising by traveling and others by staying right in your community.
A prime example of experiential learning is studying abroad in a new country. Experiencing the culture of a new place is bound to change some of your perspectives, which you can bring back with you to your home country.
If traveling is not on your radar this summer, there are also ways to engage in experiential learning in your own community, one way being to participate in volunteering or engaging in community service learning. Learning how to interact with people and situations that differ from your own is essential for your personal development, as it broadens your perspectives on the lives of others.
Put most simply, growth is enforced by continuing to learn and educating yourself in any ways you see fit, whether this is through taking extra classes, gaining new experiences in or out of your country or simply engaging in genuine conversations with people you can learn from.
Art: Maira Romanov
Career Development offers professional development advice surrounding internships and other opportunities for summer and beyond.