How to make a meaningful summer


Relaxing is the most important task to accomplish during summertime; there’s no argument there. However, when your battery has been charged again, what do you do with the rest of your time?

An internship is an awesome way to get exposure to your favorite profession or interest, but having some free time to explore things your way can be just as rewarding.

You may be thinking it’s too late to find an internship, or to jump into a big endeavor, but it’s not. There are plenty of great ways to make your summer have purpose by not taking the classic route. Consider a self-directed internship, filled with activities that you are passionate about, created for you, by you.

Alexa, a student at Oberlin College, discovered plenty about herself and her passions through her self-made journey.

“The best part about creating my own internship is that I can tailor my learning experience to my own needs.  Through my self-directed study of business and entrepreneurship, I’ve learned so much.

The key to creating your own internship is making a list of what you want to learn and/or experience and establish a plan to learn and/or experience those things.  It’s up to you to keep yourself to that plan! I read a lot of books on different aspects of business and entrepreneurship, and I interviewed several veterans in the field to get a good idea of what it’s like to be an entrepreneur.  At the end of my summer, I will have an expanded knowledge base and an expanded network.  I can pull from both of these in the future to acquire and/or excel at a job or internship.”

The work you do on your own, the discoveries you make as a student, and the creations you produce during your free time aren’t just useful to show to your friends and family. You can show your work to professors to get future internships and research opportunities, potential employers as evidence of initiative and work product, and even impress graduate school admissions officers. You can make a portfolio of your experiences. Show your depth and passions. Make your summer.

Below are just a few ideas to get you started on your summer journey. You can do all of them or just one. The point is to enjoy the exploration and take notes along the way.

  1. Make a list of people you admire in your town and interview them.


Young architects wearing a protective helmet standing in front of a building site.

Are you interested in cooking or baking, engineering, maybe teaching? Ask the people you admire if you can visit them at work.

Ask your favorite bakery if you can watch them make their most popular pastry. Ask if you could sit down with the owner and talk to them about how he or she got there. What did they do before their business? What did they study in school?

Keep a notebook of your interviews and see if you discover any similarities. What did you like about your visit? What did you like about the environment, the people, the hours?

Most people want to help (or, at the very least, are flattered you thought of them for your project). Listen to what they have to say.

If you need help thinking of questions to ask, think of the questions you’d like answered for yourself. You’re not writing this for a newspaper or school assignment, you’re collecting information that’s most important to you.

  1. Create a blog.


A blog is a great way to showcase your talent, no matter what that might be. Did you like visiting the bakeries in the area? Did you take pictures? Post them with your interview (with the owner’s permission of course) on your blog. Post your ideas and your dreams. Visit other bakeries, maybe even out of state, and see what each one does differently.

Let your imagination run away with you on this blog. The more you create, the better it will be.

It doesn’t have to be about interviews, either. You can blog about whatever you like, just try to focus it. Do you like traveling? Try writing a travel blog on your town. Where do the locals go? What do the flowers look like when you take a walk down the road? Give people a glimpse into your town.

The possibility of ideas is endless.

If you don’t already have a blog, or need some help getting started, check out WordPress or Blogger. They are free and easy to set up.


3. Volunteer.



Volunteering is a beautiful way to discover your own talents and explore curiosities, and it doesn’t have to be boring, either. Non-profits need help in a lot of different areas; writing, teaching, organizing, driving, reading, walking, or cooking. Volunteer at more than one place! If you like organizing events, volunteer to help set up a fundraiser (or set up your own…). If you are passionate about animals, get yourself to a shelter to walk those dogs! Dance with seniors at a nursing home, dance with children at a YMCA!

Explore the types of jobs you might like and seek out who needs help. If you set up that blog, you can post that in there too.

Check out to see hundreds of places to volunteer.

  1. Create your own podcast.


If writing isn’t quite your thing and you’re interested in broadcast journalism (or you just enjoy talking), try setting up your own podcast.

Think about what you’d like to share with others. Are you an expert in something? You can run your own class to teach people how you restore cars, sew dresses, plant avocadoes…you understand.

The big factor to creating a podcast is to focus the topic, just like your blog. Think of the format you might follow. Will you have guests on your “show”? Maybe some soundbites? Music?

Learn how to orchestrate a podcast on your own by checking out this article.


This may sound like work to some of you, but it isn’t meant to be that way. When you love what you do, it is never work. Recording your time this summer could be really fun, and just think of how much you’ll love to

revisit you blog, your podcast, your notebook, when you’re older and have opened that bakery, or have gotten that job as a sportscaster. Don’t forget to share your experiences with us at The Schoolhouse, too!

best summer ever