first summer in college

Dear Alby,

I just finished my first year in college as a science major and I’m wondering what to do this summer. Many of my friends say it’s important to land an internship or do research, but it’s been hard to find that kind of job because places want upperclass students with more experience. What can I do? <Fear of Missing Out on Summer>


I agree with your friends that it’s important to get work experience while you are an undergraduate to complement your classroom knowledge, whether working at a company or in a research lab or (ideally) both. While it would be fine to do this after your first summer of college, it’s also perfectly fine to begin later. Your greater knowledge will prepare you better to land those types of jobs in future summers.

As for this summer, it can be a magical one in your life, because you have a great deal of freedom. You are young enough that many families would be glad to see you come home and stay indefinitely. (This won’t necessarily be the case for you or them in just a few years.) But you have also reached the age of majority, when you can strike out on your own. You can be anywhere.

Yes, you’re limited by finances. For most students it’s necessary to earn money, and the habit of work is an important discipline. But if you can afford some time during the summer, set aside resources to travel: alone, or with a friend, sibling, or cousin. One of life’s great pleasures is puzzling out how to get from Point A to Point B while staying close to the ground. Expensive hotels are all the same, because they insulate you from the very places you’re visiting. Living cheaply allows you to appreciate the unique aspects of your locale. And traveling can refresh your body, mind, and spirit.

Whatever you decide to do this summer, make sure you do at least one thing that you will anticipate, you will enjoy, and you will remember. <Alby>

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