Spring semester has long since ended, but you’re already feeling the summer days start to drag. Take advantage of the free time you’ve been waiting for and be wary of the things you shouldn’t find yourself doing this season. I myself have learned some of these lessons both the easy way and the hard way and I thought they would be worth passing on. Here are my college student “don’ts”:
Wait around for a job to fall on your lap:
Whether you’ve procrastinated or just forgotten to follow-up, the semester is over and you’re staring at an empty three months ahead. While most companies already have their interns booked for the summer, it’s still not too late to find a job. Looking online is good, assuming everyone’s website is updated. Or, even better, call a company or store on the phone. Tell them you’re a college student off for the summer and willing to work. Offer to send your resume. If they tell you they won’t be hiring anytime soon, ask when the next opportunity will be available. At best, you may have helped wedge yourself in their minds for winter break. Just don’t forget to keep at it. If they told you they’ll get back to you but your phone never rings, remind them that you’re still around.
Get too quiet:
Do you already have an internship? Don’t just do the minimum. This is the time to overachieve and impress your superiors, even if you’re just fetching coffee or making copies. It doesn’t matter if you’re not interning at the company of your dreams. Network with people—you never know if you’ll need a stepping stone or a place to fall back on after you graduate, or even a spot to intern again next year. Even if you’re too introverted to befriend everyone in the office, the least you can do is be polite. Say good morning when you walk in and goodbye at the end of the day. Make sure people know your name and learn the names of your coworkers and employers.
Shun the library
(or the Beit Midrash):
Reading is underrated. You’ll likely never crack open that textbook from last semester, but that doesn’t mean you should limit your reading to the entries on your Facebook news feed. Is there a topic you’ve always been interested in exploring further? Do you want to revive an old chavruta? Now’s the time to catch up on all the pleasure reading and learning you’ve been pushing aside all semester.
Scroll past school emails:
Some of them most likely won’t apply to you. But you may accidentally delete something useful. If your professor just posted the required textbooks for next semester, get shopping. You have the time to compare prices and watch them fluctuate. This way you won’t be paying extra for two-day shipping the day before class. If you’re involved at Chabad or Hillel at your school, look out for posts about plans for next semester and see what you can do to help the organization grow.
Forget about your yiddeshkeit:
Attend a shiur, wake up in time for Shacharit one Shabbat or look for other ways to help in your Jewish community. Do they need a youth group leader to keep the kids busy downstairs? Is your rabbi looking for someone to give an inspiring d’var Torah one night during the week? Maybe your JCC is looking for some help at its Hebrew School. You’ve likely been away from home all year, and summer is the time to give back to your community. Volunteering is always a good resume builder. But more importantly, it can be rewarding, especially if you’re helping out people you’ve known all your life.
Make the most of the summer holidays:
Fasting in 90-degree weather can be exhausting, and not being able to listen to music or swim can really put a damper on summer. But look beyond the restrictions and find what’s meaningful about Tisha B’av and the weeks leading up to it. There are so many facets to Jewish history and there is likely an aspect of the holiday that’s never occurred to you before. Ask your rabbi or read about it online. Don’t be afraid to be inspired.
Get used to the AC:
Get outside and get busy. Go for a run (or walk) through the park. If you or your friends dorm during the year, now’s the time to do some annual catching up. Even if you don’t feel like hanging out with anyone, there’s a shady spot under the tree in your backyard that’s begging for a visit. Bring a book and a glass of lemonade and enjoy the warm weather.
By Elizabeth Zakaim