summers in college

Making the Most of My Summers in College

By Krista Savage

Summer is here—that means long, relaxing vacations, cold drinks, and constant happiness. As students, we can all gather around bonfires, forget our studies, and not stress about our lives… right?

Well, the stereotypical college summer hasn’t hit me yet, and I don’t think it ever will.

  • Summer is supposed to be fun, but it’s so much pressure!

For students like me, summer is three months of interruption to our regular routines throughout the rest of the year, and changes pretty much every aspect of our lifestyle.

My past summers in college consisted of finding ways to earn as much money as I could, and then saving it. I often found babysitting jobs, walked dogs, and house-sat for people on top of working a part-time job (or two). I lived at home with my parents, which felt a lot like high school, and I didn’t have crazy summer nights or amazing memories like I wanted. Towards the end, I was counting the days until I could go back to my college town bubble and feel like an adult.

As my college career progressed, summers in college grew even more stressful and the pressure to have an amazing internship or job in my field increased—I even started comparing my success to other students. I switched my major three times, and have to complete an extra semester, which makes me feel even more behind. I approached the summer between my junior and senior year with no internship, no job, and no plans, plus all my friends went home. I felt completely defeated and alone.

  • Planning is key, so be patient!

It was this summer I decided to plan. I stayed in my college town and picked up a minimum wage job I knew I could keep during the school year, as well as continued to walk dogs and house-sit. The next thing I did was start planning for the next summer—one I would be sure to make the most of. I had always wanted to live in a big city, and was determined to work the whole year until I got to one.

Flash forward to summer 2018 between my senior year and my last semester of college. As I’m writing this, I am happy to say I made it to the windy city. I look out my window each night to Chicago’s tall, glistening skyscrapers, and I feel truly happy. I’ve learned that summer, and life, is about finding fulfillment in everything you do, and not comparing yourself to others. It’s about setting personal goals and ferociously chasing them.

  • Do it for you, not someone else.

This summer, I have a social media internship at a small record label on Chicago’s south side, and I could not be happier. Did I mention it’s unpaid? Every day, I wake up at 7:30 am, ride the train an hour to a bus stop, ride the bus for 15 minutes, and then walk two blocks to an office where I spend six hours working with a team of amazing people to accomplish goals I genuinely care about. People ask me why I took an unpaid internship and moved to such an expensive city so far from my hometown, and I tell them the truth: it makes me happy, and I absolutely love it. Yes, I can add this experience to my resume and talk about it in future interviews, but that’s not why I did it. I’m doing it because I have a genuine passion for music exposure, and Chicago has become such an overwhelmingly incredible experience that I couldn’t possibly have passed this opportunity, and I’m so glad I didn’t. It’s only been three weeks, but I feel like I’m finally home.

My advice for students to make the most of your summers in college is do what you love, stay with your interests, and as corny as it sounds, follow your heart. There will always be pressure to get better grades, a better job, and make more money, but at the end of the day, none of that matters if you aren’t happy. It doesn’t matter if you love medicine, politics, fitness, writing, art, or anything else. Set goals, work hard, and follow your heart.