Use Your Summer Vacation Time Wisely

Nearly every student looks forward to summer vacation. It’s a period of relaxation, endless fun, and no schoolwork. However, after the first couple weeks of having all this free time, boredom inevitably sets in. If you’re serious about your studies and securing your dream job, though, then don’t waste your summer. Use it productively to help improve your future.


Enrolling in a Study Abroad Program

  1. Figure out if a study abroad program is right for you. It sounds great. But is it a good fit for you? Ask yourself these questions:
    • Do you like traveling to unfamiliar places?
    • Are you comfortable being away from friends and family for an extended period of time?
    • Would you enjoy exploring another culture?
      • If you answered “yes” to most of these questions, studying abroad may be a terrific choice for you. If you answered “no” to most, you may need more soul searching before you decide. Studying abroad is an exciting and unique opportunity to grow both as a student and as a person. However, it does come with some challenges like being out of your comfort zone and far away from people who you’re close to.[1]
  2. Decide where you want to study abroad. There are so many exciting places to choose from that it can be an overwhelming choice. You may want to first narrow down the kind of locale that interests you the most and make your decision from there. For instance, ask yourself: Would you prefer an urban or a rural setting? Do you want to go to an English-speaking location or where they speak a foreign language? Is it important that you be centrally located so that you can spend time on weekends traveling to neighboring cities?[2]
    • To assist you in finding the perfect place, it’s also a good idea to visit some of the study abroad websites to read from fellow student bloggers on what it’s like to visit there.
  3. Start planning well in advance. You will need to plan at least 6 months, if not 9 months, in advance of your summer vacation. Most programs require that you apply 6 months prior. Having 9 months will give you time to research, find, and apply to a program at your leisure.[3]
  4. Find a program. Once you’ve decided where and when, it’s time to find a program. Since you’re thinking about studying abroad during the summer, then that helps to narrow your choices down somewhat. At this point, it’s important to talk directly with someone from the program you are interested in. From this person, you can learn more about what it offers, the cost and which amenities are or aren’t included such as onsite orientation, airport pickup, housing etc.[2]
  5. Talk to your support system. Meet with your academic counselor to discuss with him or her how this program fits in with coursework for the next year and if it meets the same criteria for any of the classes you will be taking next year. If you’re still in high school or in college and your parents are involved in helping you with these kinds of decisions, talk with them about all the details of the program.[4]

Finding an Internship in a Career Field that Interests You

  1. Think about your goals. To start the process of finding the right internship, think about the skills you want to learn and the areas you want to explore. Do you love graphic design? Do you want to know what an oceanographer does all day or what scientific research is like? Having clear objectives in your mind will help you find an internship that you can get excited about.[5]
    • For instance, a potential pre-med student can intern in a hospital or a research lab. A business student can volunteer in a public relations or marketing firm. A future environmentalist can work with rangers in a forest.
  2. Use the internet. Once you know the direction you want to head in, you can start looking for an internship online. Begin by searching for local organizations and businesses in your areas of interest to see if they offer internship programs. There are also large websites that allow you to search for internships at non-profits as well as opportunities in different countries.[5]
  3. Take advantage of other avenues. Using local resources and personal contacts are other terrific ways to find an internship. Visit your school’s career office. Ask your teachers and high school advisor for help. Check with coaches. Find out if friends or family know someone in a field that interests you. You can also find alumni from your school through one of the big networking websites who are employed at one of your preferred companies. Connect with them, and let them know you’re interested in an internship and if they have any advice for you or tips.[5]
    • If there’s a specific organization or company you’d like to intern with, don’t be afraid to contact someone there.

Developing One of Your Passions

  1. Pinpoint your passion. It only makes sense that before you develop it you have to find it first. Ask yourself, what is that you like to do? Or what have you always dreamed of doing? Do you have a favorite hobby that you could turn into your dream job? If you have varied interests or you’re unsure, consider taking an aptitude test. There are a few terrific ones that can help a person to really pinpoint their strengths in given areas. [6]
  2. Develop it. Once you’ve identified it, spend as much time as possible developing what it is that you really want to explore. If writing screenplays is your passion, work on it. Sign up for a writing group. Ask friends to read and critique your work.[6]
    • If you love photography, get a decent camera and learn how to use it. Then start taking photos – lots of them, far away and close-up. You get the picture. Whatever your passion is, follow it.
  3. Establish measurable objectives. In order to turn your passion into a reality, it’s important to set specific objectives. Many people make daily “to do” lists but that’s not enough. You may have certain steps for each day, but also think about what you want to achieve by the end of the week, month and a year from now. Then set goals to make it happen. Set specific deadlines for yourself, and you will be more likely to reach them.[7]
  4. Reevaluate your progress. After 4 to 6 weeks, reflect on the progress you’ve made and where you are. Look at the objectives you’ve set, and compare them to where you are on your path. If you’ve met all of them along the way, then congratulate yourself. If you fell behind, then reevaluate.[7]
    • Ask yourself, have you worked hard enough? Should you change something? Or were your goals too big to start with? Be realistic in the process as you take steps towards your passion, and you’re more likely to achieve it.[6]

Focusing on Other Worthwhile Activities That You Can Do

  1. Get a job. Starting in the work force early in life can serve many purposes. Some of these include building your resume, earning money and the development of interpersonal and organizational skills. Getting a job is a fairly practical option, and it can’t help but build character.[8]
  2. Volunteer somewhere. There are plenty of deserving causes that need help and the summer is a perfect time to do it. Whether it’s digging boreholes in Uganda or reading to kids at the local library, the outcome is the same: you’re helping society in a hands-on way. From homeless shelters to hospitals, choose something you care about and give back to the greater good.[9]
  3. Take a class. Once final exams are finished, most students look forward to a long summer break before classes resume again in the fall. However, you may want to consider signing up for a summer class. There are many great reasons to do it. It can help you make up for a course that you didn’t do well in. It could also help if you want to complete a prerequisite class so that you can take a certain class in the fall.[10]
    • Taking a summer class may also give you an advantage in finishing your school program early.
    • Another terrific benefit, though you need to make sure you really focus, is that the classes are usually shorter.


  • Motivate yourself! Set a goal and decide, prior to its completion, how you will reward yourself for a job well done. A tedious task can seem much less daunting when you can look forward to a treat or favorite activity upon completion!
  • Studies show that there is such a thing as "Summer Knowledge Loss.” Review notes, worksheets, assignments etc. It will pay off in the future.[11]
  • If you want to feel good, help people by volunteering or donating to charities.


  • Don't forget to enjoy yourself. If you attempt a structured approach to this holiday, make sure you don't lose sight of the fun side of summer.

Things You'll Need

  • A calendar or planner

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Sources and Citations

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