On my last day of classes, my aunt and I were discussing my summer plans and what I planned to do in the upcoming days. I just completed my sophomore year at the University of Southern California and have all these plans lined up including my part-time job and another internship. When I informed my aunt of my plans, she told me, “And here I thought you would be able to just relax and read all summer like you wanted to. That doesn’t sound like much of a break.”
Her response caught me off guard because, compared to my workload during the spring semester, I thought I was getting a break. But when I reflected on what I told her I would be doing and the amount of hours I would be spending working each week, my plans did not sound as relaxing as they did before. While I could just call everything off and literally be unproductive throughout my summer break, the goals I have for my future are not just handed to me. I have to make these opportunities available to myself which can’t happen in the comfort of my bed, no matter how tempting that sounds.
While the job market is showing signs of improvement these past few years, college students are still facing an uphill battle in landing a job after graduation. Because of this, students should work hard throughout their college career to build themselves up not only as future employers but well-rounded individuals.
“Employers are looking for students who have done meaningful work,” says Lynn O’Shaughnessy, author of The College Solution. “They’re not just interested in students who may have devoted a lot of time studying and getting straight A’s. They want students who have shown initiative and are motivated and have pursued interests outside the classroom.”
According to foxbusiness.com, the top four to-do list for college students during their summer vacations are internships, academic activities, volunteering, and conducting individual projects. As the job market continues to increase in competitiveness every year, more becomes required of us as potential successors in any career path. This means the job as college students is never done whether we are during midterm and finals season or during our summer breaks. There are no breaks for college students. Every day is a step closer to figuring out where we fit in this world and every year is a set of goals accomplished towards the reality that faces us once we graduate. And when we walk that stage, it’s the end of another period and the face of a new chapter, whether it’s the internship that will jumpstart your career or the graduate program that will professionalize your career objectives. This doesn’t mean that you need to rush the process. Spend the time exploring your interests and researching opportunities to cultivate yourself.
While I have two years left, I still cannot help but wonder where I go from here. In reality, yes, I enjoy my three months of academic freedom then start the second half of my undergraduate college career in the fall but even at this point in my education, the only thing that keeps me going is my future. Where am I headed? What does it take from me to achieve the goals I have set for myself? These are the common thoughts of the average college student frequently, especially upperclassmen where time just seems to be running out a bit faster than they thought. With all of this being said, these four years spent trying to find yourself in this world and develop the skills and talents you have been given should not add stress. These four years should challenge and encourage you to think big and set the bar high.
They say that college is the best four years of your life. And they are. Parties and meeting your lifetime friends is an awesome experience but so is discovering who you are and working towards whom you dream to be in the future. Go to the beach, drive to Vegas with your friends, have a great time this summer but remember that every day as a college student is sacred and spend it not only in celebration of early adulthood but also productively.
Shelby White is an intern for Black Is and a student at the University of Southern California.