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6 Ways College Students Can Maximize Their Summer

Mar 31, 2021
Here are 6 ways to make your summer matter, from starting a small business to enrolling in a summer immersion program

By Jong Eun Jung

As the school year wraps up, many undergraduate students look forward to a summer full of fun and relaxation. However, summer is a great time to be productive and develop yourself as a budding professional. Here are 6 ways that you can make your summer matter:

Summer Immersion

Michelle Desh

Michelle Desh (Vanderbilt’20)

A summer immersion is a great resume builder and helps you develop the skills necessary for future jobs and internships. Through the immersion, you’ll develop critical skills such as public speaking and research and expand your knowledge in industries such as consulting and finance. For example, at Vanderbilt AcceleratorⓇ Virtual Business Immersion, students have the opportunity to work on a real client project to gain hands-on experience. They also attend virtual lectures by world-renowned faculty and gain business skills. “Accelerator helps you launch (your) professional development. It’s been a huge catalyst (for me). A lot of the skills that I use day-to-day in school (and my internship), I learned at Accelerator,” said Michelle Desh (Vanderbilt’20), a former Accelerator participant.


Jon Lehman, Director of Accelerator

Internships give you an leg up in your future career. During an internship, you will have the opportunity to observe a certain field or industry you have an interest in and decide whether it’s right for you. You’ll also have a chance to network with employees in the company and industry. Due to COVID-19, many internships have moved to a virtual format, but this doesn’t mean they’re any less valuable. “This has greatly expanded the options available to students that in the past couldn’t travel and live in another city,” said Jon Lehman, Faculty Director of Accelerator. In fact, the ability to operate in a virtual environment will be desired by many future employers, and interns also learn other versatile skills such as managing a project and working on a team. Most interns are interviewed and hired during the school year, so make sure you take note of the application deadlines for internships you are interested in.


Volunteering is an opportunity to use your skills to help your community. By interacting with diverse people, you can expand your mindset and grow strong relationships with the people around you. Volunteer programs can also help you develop workplace skills such as leadership and collaboration. Many organization also offer virtual volunteer opportunities; use this summer to explore different ways you can serve your community through a cause you are passionate about.

Summer Job

Not only does a summer job help you earn spending money for the school year, it also gets you one step ahead of your fellow students in the real world by giving you real-world experience to add to your resume. Even though it’s not an official internship, you’ll still gain valuable skills at a summer job, such as time management and fiscal responsibility. Many opportunities for part-time summer work can be found online, some of which are completely virtual. “College career centers are also great places to find opportunities,” Lehman added.

Start Your Own Business

If you’re the type of person with an entrepreneurial spirit, try starting your own business this summer. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need a lot of funding: With a small budget or none at all, you can sell hand-crafted jewelry or freelance as a writer. Brainstorm some startup ideas and sketch out some business plans. Through this process, you’ll learn the ins and outs of running a small business.

Academic Research

Academic research isn’t only for students who want to pursue graduate school or an academic profession. Research lets you dive deeper into a field and helps you develop skills such as scientific research and data analysis. If you’re interested in research, think about fields you are interested in, such as psychology and marketing. Contact a professor who is conducting research in that field to learn about research assistant opportunities.

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