Summer, bringing with it the sweet taste of freedom. After a probably-hectic semester, you have some room to breathe. You can R&R in peace, maybe soak up some sunshine and spend quality time with family and friends. 

However, as important as it is to have fun, that’s not all you should be doing. You would have built up a great deal of academic momentum these past few months. You don’t want to lose steam now just because it’s summer and there are no official demands being placed upon your time. 

Today’s work environment, as you’re already aware, is hyper-competitive. You need all the advantages you can get. It’s crucial to spend at least a portion of your summer break productively. The goal is to continue learning and honing your current skillset so that you can provide extra value to any employer.     

Here are some suggestions about what you can do this summer to make it productive as well as enjoyable: 

Sign up for summer classes

Photo by: RedCharliepeople on library

Summer classes have always been popular with students – and for good reason! If you take summer classes, it may be possible to shave off as much as a year from your formal education. For example, some students manage to complete a 4-year degree in 3 years by acquiring extra academic credit via a summer class or two. 

Many universities and local community colleges offer summer classes. If you’re taking a summer class from another university, make sure the credits are eligible to be transferred over first. Apart from providing you with academic credit, summer classes bring with them several invaluable benefits. Here are some of the most notable ones:

  • Big savings on tuition cost. 
  • Extra networking opportunities. 
  • A chance to acquire valuable skills. 
  • A self-confidence boost.

Study Abroad

Photo By: Edgar Chaparroman standing front of seashore and houses

What’s better than taking summer classes? Taking summer classes abroad! Not only do you get all the benefits of attending summer classes, but you also get to experience a beautiful foreign country while you’re at it. These days, there are plenty of foreign universities that have partnerships with local ones, allowing you to transfer academic credit back with little trouble. 

Taking an independent course in a foreign university – such as a language course– may also be worthwhile. In today’s multicultural, multinational work environment, employers are always looking for employees who speak an extra language or two, or have other in-demand skills.  

Of course, studying abroad can be pricey. A plane ticket isn’t exactly cheap, and neither is living in an expensive city like London or New York, even if it is only for a few weeks. If you’re struggling with student debt already, it might be better to look for a work-while-you-learn opportunity instead.    

Intern locally  

Photo By: Brooke Cagle

three people sitting in front of table laughing together

If subjecting yourself to extra academics doesn’t sound all that appealing, a summer internship might be more up your street. Summer internships for college students typically last a handful of weeks. They give you an opportunity to be out and about, testing your skills in the real world and getting a feel for what’s really out there. An internship is also a more hands-on way of learning.

Internships for college students can be paid or unpaid. Compensation ranges from free housing and food, to travel money and a weekly wage. Even the “unpaid” ones offer several benefits like academic credit and are usually worthwhile. You may get referrals and, at the very least, a chance to network with people in your field.       

Small and large businesses both love to take on students during the summer months, a busy time when they need all the help they can get. Check with your university or ask people you know for a recommendation. If that doesn’t work, you can always search for local internships online

Pursue exciting internship opportunities abroad

Photo By: Kat Garciawomen's gray and black plaid collared dress

If interning locally might be a little too pedestrian for your taste and you want to do something a little different and a lot more exciting, consider applying for an internship opportunity abroad. Interning abroad is an excellent way to broaden your horizons and soak up a foreign culture, not to mention make some spending money. It also tends to look great on your resume. 

Plenty of companies these days offer internship opportunities abroad. As with local internships, the compensation you’ll receive will vary from paying for your lunch and travel expenses to a fully-paid internship. Regardless of the compensation, interning abroad will prepare you for today’s globalized work environment.  

Where can you find summer internships for college students? Capital Placement offers several short-term internship programs, lasting between 4 and 12 weeks. They fit your summer break schedule perfectly. Upon registration, you’ll receive everything you need to successfully intern abroad, including accommodation, visas, insurance, 24/7 on-site support, and much more. You get a chance to intern in top cities like London, New York, and Singapore. 

How do you begin your search on finding your ideal internship? Edubirdie has broken down a few ways to find your ideal internship including how to prepare to attend career fairs and what to do after you’ve found the right company for your ideal internship.

Seek part-time employment 

Photo by: Andrii Podilnykwoman pours liquid on cups

Students everywhere tend to have the same problem: too many expenses and too little income! While an internship will compensate you, many internship programs require an initial investment in both time and money from your end. What do you do in the summer if you can’t afford to intern? You could get a part-time job instead.

The major difference between part-time work and internships is the emphasis – or lack thereof – on formal training. Yes, you will learn something valuable when you work part-time, but you most probably won’t be trained in an area you wish to pursue after you graduate and usually the roles are pretty mundane. You will, however, get financially compensated for your time! 

Part-time work will help you pick up interpersonal skills, time and money management skills, and several transferable work skills. These are all still better than not doing anything over the summer! 

Volunteer

Photo By: Cristi Tohatanfour people sitting near road

The last recommended activity on our list is volunteer work. Volunteer work, as you know, involves helping people who are not as fortunate as most of us. Although the chances of you getting paid are slim, helping others can be its own reward. Volunteer workers are known to be happier than average. Helping others for altruistic purposes can shoot your self-esteem through the roof. 

You can choose to volunteer locally or abroad. If you want to travel the world, volunteer work abroad offers the perfect opportunity to do so without spending your own money. Volunteer programs generally last from 3 to 6 weeks.   

But will volunteer work help your career? Yes, it does! Most volunteering opportunities offer extensive training. Volunteer work also puts you in touch with people and companies from all over the world, providing you with an invaluable chance to network. Finally, employers tend to look kindly on students who are fond of volunteering, and many jobs these days require skills like empathy, teamwork, frugal problem solving, etc, which you will develop through volunteer work. 

Wrapping it up 

Of course, it’s important that you don’t go overboard with your summer schedule. Don’t forget to have fun and blow off some steam. After all, you’ll need plenty of energy and enthusiasm to tackle the upcoming semesters. We recommend activities that you can enjoy but also help your career along – like volunteer work abroad or interning internationally in an exciting new city!

Don’t forget to share this post!

Julia Hurtado

Julia Hurtado

Having spent an entire summer dedicated to travelling abroad, Julia now focuses on helping other students experience life outside their home country. As an American now working in London, Julia enjoys sharing advice on interning abroad, sipping tea (with 2 sugars, 1 milk please) and reading in her spare time.

We are on Social media!

How to Create a CV That Will Help You Stand Out

Last week we covered some top tips for writing a successful job application. If you haven’t seen it yet, you can check it out here and give it a read. After publishing that article, we had several people reach out to us, asking for tips for writing a successful CV. So...

read more

7 Tips to Writing a Successful Job Application

So, you’re coming towards the end of your degree, and it’s about time to start applying for jobs and internship positions. Your anxiety is creeping up, and you aren’t sure where or how to start that job application you’ve been avoiding for the past few weeks. With...

read more