Something New for the Summer

by Julie Vick

For graduate students summer can be hectic and not the relaxing time from earlier years. Doctoral students may be teaching or TA-ing semester-length courses in five or six weeks, studying needed foreign languages or systems, participating in fieldwork, or designing and conducting lab-based research. Professional students may be interning with a company or not-for-profit to get a taste of their potential future work world.
Whether these warmer months find you doing “more of the same,” or doing something different and new to you, it’s important that you do a few other things:

  1. Take a break from the here-and-now to focus on the future,
  2. Do something fun and not related to schoolwork or career, and
  3. Do something for someone else.

Following those steps will help you to feel both prepared and renewed when summer comes to an end and the semester starts up again.

Do something for your future

  • Build and maintain your network
    • Reach out to previous employers, professors and others to let them know what you’re doing this summer
    • Identify people who do work that interests you and conduct some information interviews
    • Attend a networking event (or an event where you can meet new people) through your alma mater, employer, professional association or one organized for people in your urban area
    • Keep track of all interactions and thank/acknowledge everyone who talks with you and/or provides advice or information
  • Think about your plans for next year
  • What else will you do in addition to coursework?
    • Serve on a student group committee
    • Help organize your graduate group’s symposium series
    • Plan to attend Career Services programs and workshops and connect with a career advisor
  • If it’s your final year, when will you start your job search?

Do something that’s fun

  • Get away, even for just a weekend.
  • Do something physical. Perhaps you go to the gym everyday but try an outdoor activity. Being active outside – better still, being in nature –can rejuvenate you. Take a bike ride. Go hiking. Try canoeing or kayaking. There are bike trails and state parks closer than you think.

Do something for someone else

  • There are lots of opportunities to serve as a volunteer. If you’re not sure where to start, find out if there’s a volunteer activities coordinator at your institution. Just spending a morning helping to clean up an abandoned block, playing with a hospitalized child or reading to an infirm elderly adult can help you forget about the stresses in your life and bring some joy to someone else

Doing these things will renew you; renewing yourself will help you start the new school year off well.

“Summer’s lease hath all too short a date.” ― William Shakespeare

Author: Julie Miller Vick

Julie Miller Vick is the Senior Associate Director in Career Services for graduate students and post docs.