5 Ways to Make the Most of Your Summers Through College

College summers — three wonderful 12-week vacations you get after the academic year before you graduate a four-year university. For some of you, they might fly by. For others, they might drag on and seem boring. Whatever your perspective may be, we can all agree that summers provide us with flexibility and time we can spend doing just about anything…traveling, working, volunteering, partying — the list goes on.

By design, the school year creates a repetitive, comfortable, predictable and relatively easy routine. Fortunately for you, summers shatter this routine.

For the purposes of this post, let’s look at some of the most common ways college students will spend their summer days and see how each can add value and help you grow.

Travel

Summer travel is especially relevant after freshman and sophomore year. Some students may have the opportunity during one or both of these summers to spend a week studying business or another subject in a foreign country. Take these opportunities. Getting travel experience early in college will expand your worldview and make you feel better about doing a more serious internship after your junior year (as these generally provide little travel flexibility).

Also, if you do these trips in May, you can extend them into early June and purposefully start a traditional summer job or internship upon returning home. This way, you can travel and then help pay for that travel by working.

You can take another approach and look into a summer study abroad opportunity instead. You’ll grow more self-sufficient than the majority of your friends who stay home.

Traditional Jobs

Summers give you a unique opportunity to spend entire days and even weeks getting your hands dirty and learning from the real world. Working part time jobs, such as busing tables, cutting grass or delivering pizza will all help you get some hands-on work experience and understand how a business runs from an employee’s perspective. Ask yourself some questions… Do you like the owner? Is the business you’re working for successful? Struggling? Why? Do you feel limited in the type of work you can do? How do you get a more fun job and still get paid?

Traditional entry-level and minimum wage jobs are perfect jobs to take after your freshman year especially, as they help you realize the value of a dollar.

Entrepreneurial Projects

There are a lot of misconceptions about starting a company during college. The truth is you can get started in two hours of work if you work efficiently and smart…we’ve seen kids in Boulder, CO start companies overnight with Eyesight Collective, and they’re popping up left and right. Plus, starting a company is one of the best ways to learn A LOT of valuable life-skills very quickly.

You don’t have to start the next Uber or AirBnb. Start small; organize weekend trips, help local companies advertise on social media, design tee-shirts to sell at events/festivals, etc.

Eyesight is a great resource for college-entrepreneurs in taking their first few steps and getting something off the ground.

Click HERE to check out Eyesight’s Entrepreneurship course, Startup Vault.

One of the best things you could do over the summer is have coffee with as many inspiring people as possible. Set up a meeting with one person for this week and simply ask them for advice. Then, ask them who you should meet next. Get an introduction to that person. If you do this all summer, you’ll finish up having met 10–15 very inspiring people who could become mentors.

Internships

Let me start by saying that internships don’t have to be full-time. Sure they can be 40, 50 and heck, even 80 hours a week during the summer…but they can also be 20, 10, or 5 hours as well. Internships differ slightly from traditional work because they often involve learning as much as they involve working. Internships allow you to work with professionals in a given industry, give your resume some credibility, and expose you to new concepts, trends, skills and vocabulary.

It’s not impossible to set up a 4–5 week, 10–20 hour per week internship after your freshman year. Often times you need to create the opportunity for yourself by making some connections and doing some networking, but this internship does NOT have to interfere with your traditional summer job.

Paid or unpaid, done remotely or in an office, this experience will help you leverage yourself into a more relevant internship opportunity after your sophomore year. Then after two summers of having explored an industry, you will undoubtedly have more of an idea of how you’d like to spend your junior year summer.

Summer Classes

Your learning shouldn’t stop, especially during the summer. Whether you need to retake a class, get ahead on credits, or simply want to learn about a particular topic, the summer gives you this ability.

Many students are willing to shell out over $1,000 for a three-credit summer class, either on campus or online. Plain and simple, $1,000 is a ridiculously steep price to pay to learn about a subject over the summer. I’m sorry, but that’s just the truth.

As I mentioned earlier, if you’re actually considering taking a for-credit summer class, try something like Startup Vault instead. It’s a tenth of the price of a for-credit course, and the business/life skills you’ll learn are more valuable for the real world.

College summers matter.

Allow them to build on each other. Travel, work, start your own project, intern, and learn. Talk to others, and do some planning before each May arrives. Actively take control of your future by learning valuable personal and professional skills during this time, and make sure have some fun along the way.

You won’t regret it.