From class schedules to syllabi to meals, the busy college lifestyle requires meticulous planning throughout the year. Even the prospect of summer vacation seems to have lost some of its magic because students have to schedule in hours devoted to researching and applying to internships and jobs months in advance. Although competitive internship and job markets leave many qualified students empty-handed, there are alternatives to make summer break productive.

Career Services’ Interim Assistant Director Amie Hammond suggested a few short-term summer commitments to get students career-ready.
“We highly recommend job-shadowing to see a day-in-the-life of someone in your desired field. It also helps build your network,” Hammond said. “There’s also information interviewing, where you sit down with a professional to see what they do.”

Hammond reminded students to take advantage of Career Services, no matter their location or graduation year. Students staying in San Luis Obispo during summer have the option of in-person counseling, while students out-of-town can talk to counselors over the phone or through video calling sessions.
All services are available to students up to one year after they graduate. Access to MustangJOBS is available to all Cal Poly alumni, including undergraduates.

Hammond discussed the perks of acquiring part-time employment over vacation.

“It’s ideal if you relate your desired career with the part-time job. For example, if you want to work with children, you can be a camp counselor or lifeguard,” she said. “It’s all about building skills that can be attractive to future employers.”

Biological sciences senior Brady Meadows stays busy and learns new skills during the summer through activities unrelated to jobs or internships, like cooking and yoga.

“One summer my friends and I also made a recipe book of everything we cooked,” Meadows said. “Students can also sign up for a race at the end of the summer to train for or do community group yoga sessions on the beach which are often free.”

Whether it’s cooking or learning a new instrument, skills to develop are endless during the summer months. Meadows said she took advantage of her summer by writing in her journal.

“It’s a special time, because the college years are so jam-packed quarter-to-quarter, so I keep a journal in the summer of all that went down,” she said. “I’ve bought a ‘Bucket List Journal’ from Barnes & Noble to write down all the Cal Poly things I wanted to do, like the Tri-Tip Challenge, put gum on the Gum Wall and apple picking in Prefumo Canyon.”

Keeping a journal is a good idea for students travelling over summer vacation to jot down their memories.

Liberal studies senior Megan Moerman finds traveling, especially solo, an essential part of the college experience, because it opens students up to diverse experiences without the distraction of other college students. Travelling solo allows students to become more open-minded toward other cultures as they learn and experience new customs on their own.

Hammond also especially recommends traveling abroad. According to Hammond, the workplace is becoming more interconnected as technology advances.

Productivity and fulfillment are often interconnected; however they are distinctly different. Fulfillment does not always involve the stresses that are frequently accompanied by productivity. It may be ingrained in the mind of a college student to get ahead and be ambitious, but students also have their youth and array of opportunities to consider.

The perks of summer don’t always involve a big paycheck or resume addition. These sunny months encourage journal pages to fill up, passports to be stamped and dusty books to be read. Regardless of specifics plans or graduating year, Cal Poly students have a summer ahead that’s full of possibilities.

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