As the year comes to a close and you count down the days until prom, graduation, and freedom, you may be faced with the dreaded question: What are you doing this summer?
Thankfully, there is a range of options to suit every interest and person, whether you’re a beach bum or a worker bee.
If You Want to Intern...
If you’re willing to spend your summer making calls and creating spreadsheets or learning about a field from a professional, you have a host of options.
However, as a high school student, you have limitations. Many large organizations prefer third-year college students or graduate students.
In effect, you may have to look farther than corporations and national charities. On the plus side, you’ll get more individual attention and won’t have to travel so far.
For more information, check out my article about how to get student internships
If You Want to Earn Money...
If you’d like to have a summer that benefits you financially, working is probably the best option. Most internships are unpaid for high school students.
A job in a career you might pursue, like filing in an accounting office, would be optimal, as you could add the position to your resume.
Unfortunately, a position like that might not be available. Employers do appreciate evidence of diligence, which could be shown in any job, especially if you receive a positive recommendation.
Your school employment office or guidance office likely offers job opportunities, and local businesses often post on Craigslist or place job openings in the local paper.
If You Want to Travel...
Don’t let your financial situation keep you from exploring the world. While most programs come at a hefty price, free travel options exist for students.
Do your research. Reading about all types of programs - adventure, volunteering, or study abroad - will maximize your chances of finding a perfect program.
Decide what your purpose is for this summer. If you would like to work with animals or volunteer, go ahead and woof, giving your time and energy in exchange for food and lodging almost anywhere around the world.
If you’d like to build your language skills, perhaps consider a position as an au-pair or tutor in a foreign country.
If You Want to Get Ahead...
With college ahead, you may wish to get a jump-start on courses, especially if you’ll be attending a school with many distribution requirements.
The more expensive option is a summer camp at a college. Many colleges offer this option, from Stanford to Amherst.
Students take courses with college professors and interact with college students on campus. This is a great option if you’re undecided about a school.
If that seems too structured, local colleges offer summer classes that you may wish to join. Contact your college to double check those credits will be accepted before you take them.
These are fantastic ways to test if you enjoy a subject, study before college, keep yourself occupied, or get rid of some requirements that could take time away from subjects you’d prefer to study.
If You Want to Relax...
If all of these options seem too work-intensive and you’d prefer to lie on the beach, you could do so and still have a productive summer.
To earn money while relaxing and enjoying yourself, apply for an outdoor job, like coaching a youth sports program, working as a camp counselor, or life-guarding.
Make sure to ask beforehand, however, about job requirements. Some lifeguards find their job anything but relaxing, and some camps require long hours.
Also, consider your schedule. If you’re a senior and you’ll be off to college halfway through August, inform your employer or boss. Failing to show up is not an optimal way to end a job.
Finally, you could create your own entertainment or productivity.
Try one (or all) of these to occupy your down time this summer:
--While you tan in your backyard, catch up on the reading you’ll need to do for college.
--Learn a language with Rosetta Stone or Duolingo (which is a free app).
--Start a business with a friend.
--Volunteer when you’re bored.
There are thousands of ways to have a fun and productive summer. You don’t necessarily need an elite internship or a stressful job.
Consider your personality, needs, and constraints. Then, make the decision that works best for you, making time to enjoy yourself!