As much as I hate to admit it, I’m not 16 anymore. I’ve graduated high school, and in a few months, I will have graduated college, too. At Hermiona, we spend a lot of time telling you about the wide variety of wonderful summer programs that American universities have to offer for high school students, but we don’t often talk about what college students (and adults in general!) can do with their summers beyond taking summer classes or going to their regular jobs. It can be just as rewarding and resume-boosting as it is for high school students: you just need to give it some thought.
Before you go into planning your summer, consider what you’d like to accomplish during those 2-3 months. Do you want to achieve a goal that you set at the beginning of year? Do you want to fill a gap on your resume? Do you need to hone a certain skill? Once you’ve answered that question, then you can start looking for appropriate programs, courses, and activities. Whatever it is though, make sure to identify what exactly it is that you want to achieve: if, for example, you want to learn a language, be sure to specify what level you want to learn it at, i.e. A1/2, B1/2, or C1/2.
(This is a summer class I took while in Kazakhstan last year.)
I’ve spent every summer since 6th grade doing some kind of summer program -- and as I’ve gotten older, the kind of program has changed. So now, I present to you a few suggestions:
Consider an internship! They aren’t all just for students. Email the places that you are interested in, even if there are no offering on their site -- you’ll be surprised at how many responses you receive. Although it can seem like internships are only for current college students, that’s not always the case: some will take you if you have just graduated college or are a graduate student (like, for example, the US State Department Student Internship Program). Some will even take you if you are a recent graduate -- i.e. within the last two years!
Check your ideal employers’ websites for info, and don’t be afraid to reach out. These can be great opportunities to add real professional experience to your resume and work on projects that will translate into marketable skills. (I interned at the US Consulate in Almaty, where I got to work on some of the only reports to the US government about language policy in Kazakhstan, one of my academic interests!) There are more positions for college graduates than you’d think.
Learn a language! You can do this at ANY age, and it’s something that will benefit your resume no matter what. There are dozens of great residential programs for this (like, for example, Middlebury Summer Schools or the Critical Language Scholarship), which are for students of all ages. If you find that you learn better with more individual attention, consider hiring a private tutor: such services are often inexpensive when over Skype. In a recent interview, the interviewer was extremely impressed by my knowledge of Persian, and was very pleased to see that I had spent a summer intensively learning it. Remember that every field needs people who speak foreign languages.
Work on your coding/computer skills! This, too, is something you can do at ANY age and will benefit your resume. Here, too, there are many residential classes -- but often your local library will offer classes on this. Any employer will be pleased that you’re proficient in Excel, Java, and C++. If technology is daunting for you (as it is for me), the summer is a low-stakes time to work on getting comfortable with computers at your own pace.
Take up a completely new skill! Last year, one of my New Year’s resolutions was to learn to tango -- so I went to classes, and am now a half-decent tango dancer. Summer is the best time to take up a new hobby. You might never put it on your resume (or maybe you will, that part’s up to you), but it will be good for your soul and make for good conversation whether or not you’re in an interview.
Start something to supplement your income! Be entrepreneurial! The summer can be a great time to acquire skills that will let you earn money on the side. If you like yoga, for example, you might consider taking a yoga teacher certification class, so that you can teach classes in the future -- and put that certification on your resume. You can also start a tutoring business or sell your artwork on online platforms like Etsy. In high school, I started an online translation business which counted as my “high school job,” which was far more personally rewarding than working in the library or at a restaurant.
This is only the beginning of what adults can do with their summer. Consider these suggestions as a springboard for you to move closer to your goals from June to August, whatever they may be!