So what should I do this summer?
Although it might feel too early to start thinking ahead to summer, it is definitely not! The deadlines for summer internship applications are fast approaching, and many of them require essays and letters of recommendation. Unsure of what you even want to do, especially with continued COVID-19 restrictions? Don’t worry; we have a list of different ideas of what you can do to make your time this summer well spent.
1. Research. By working in lab full-time, summers are a great time to make substantial progress on your research project(s) that simply is not possible while juggling classes and extracurriculars during the academic year. If you are interested in pursuing a research-related career, it is essential that you spend at least one summer performing full-time research to see if you truly enjoy the mindset, work, and environment of research. Even if you are not planning on pursuing a Ph.D. in chemistry/biochemistry, a research-focused summer can be quite rewarding as you gain research skills, solve problems, and grow as a scientist.
- If you are already in a lab, ask your professor if he/she would be interested in hiring you to work over the summer. Many PIs have funding or can apply for funding to support an undergraduate researcher.
- If you are not in a lab, Baylor’s B-TRUE (Baylor Transdisciplinary Research Undergraduate Experience) program might be a good fit for you. There are also some external research programs designed specifically to provide students with an introduction to undergraduate research.
- If you are interested in pursuing research outside of Baylor, the NSF (National Science Foundation) funds dozens of REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) sites around the country. Be sure to closely examine the eligibility requirements for each individual program site as some programs focus on students without research experience, students with disabilities, underrepresented groups, first-generation students, etc.
- If you are interested in a more clinical setting, the Baylor Prehealth Office has several partnerships, so be sure to check your email and their website for more information.
2. Shadowing. For our prehealth students, gaining real experience in the medical field is important in discerning if a health profession is truly right for you, and shadowing hours are often required for those professional school applications. Reach out to doctors and other healthcare professionals that you know to see if they allow students to shadow them over the summer. Even if you are not interested in a particular specialty, be courteous, grateful, and professional. With the pandemic, shadowing may be more limited, but networking now may help provide shadowing opportunities later. Other options to complement your shadowing experience include medical scribing and earning an EMT license.
3. Volunteering. Sometimes with all the stress of school, it can be easy to become disconnected from the struggles of real people in the real world. Is there a nonprofit whose work you really care about or that serves a population that you are very passionate about? Many organizations are always looking for help, so reach out to one of your favorites and see if they would be interested in a summer intern/more committed volunteer. Summer volunteering does not have to look like a mission trip, and often times the most meaningful service happens locally and consistently.
4. Classes. Maybe you have to take that required prerequisite or you want to fulfill some of the general education requirements in English, Religion, etc. Taking summer classes can be very helpful in reducing your coursework during the semester and can easily be combined with many other summer activities. However, many research programs prohibit participants from simultaneously taking classes due to the time commitment required of research, so just check with your specific program. At Baylor, advisement and registration for summer classes happens at the same time as it does for fall classes, so be sure to talk to your advisor for more details.
5. Work. There is no shame in needing a summer job(s), whether you are a lifeguard, summer camp counselor, cashier, nanny, or more! In addition to earning a paycheck, a job demonstrates responsibility, communication, and other transferable skills. Especially as a freshman, it can be difficult to secure a competitive research or clinical internship. If you are worried about your resume, maybe combine with shadowing, volunteering, classes, and/or developing another one of your passions and hobbies.
No matter what you choose to do, it is also important to take time to recharge during the summer, and have fun! We are looking forward to see what you Bears will be up to, and let us know any other ideas you have for a fulfilling summer in the comments.