After two semesters of arduous assignments, readings, quizzes, and exams, college students are finally free of their academic constraints and are allowed to have their well-deserved summer break. While summer is a perfect time to catch up on Netflix and TV shows, it is also an amazing opportunity to be curious and explore academic and/or personal interests. 

Many college students take advantage of summer break to get ahead of their coursework and take some additional classes. However, summer break activities are certainly not limited to just academic coursework. Many students view summer as a valuable time to polish their personal and/or professional skills. They might do an internship, study abroad, volunteer, work full- or part-time, and more. The main goal of summer is to relax yourself while making progress on endeavors that you weren’t able to during the school year. 

To prepare for summer, it is important to reflect on your personal interests, short- and long-term goals, and what you want your summer to look like. For example, when I self-reflected on my first year of college, I was especially intrigued by my research experience through MRADS. I was not only able to explore the public health field, I was also able to take part in promoting health among the Asian American community. My research experience also inspired me to take part in more research projects. Combining my newfound passion for research with my long-term goal of becoming a physician-scientist, I decided to spend my summer conducting research to advance my interest in the natural sciences. In order to do so, I first had to scour the internet to find available opportunities on and off campus. Some amazing websites that I’ve used to explore the opportunities that I am interested in include the Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology (my major’s) department website, the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program website, and the Opportunity Hub at the University of Michigan. Looking through the University of Michigan’s websites, I was able to narrow down my options and start applying to specific programs that suited my interests.

It is also extremely helpful to speak with your professors and academic advisors, as they may know of opportunities on campus that cater towards your interests. Personally, I’ve asked many of my peers from MRADS about  available opportunities and was able to secure a position at a research lab for this summer after speaking with our program director, Dr. Olsen. The MRADS community is absolutely one of the best resources that first year students could have as many members of the community are aware of the opportunities both on and off campus. More importantly, MRADS provides a workshop that introduces students to different summer opportunities/resources. Through this workshop, I’ve connected with multiple talented students who were able to provide me with some advice and application feedback that eventually helped me secure my new position.

Lastly, I strongly recommend taking part in extracurricular activities that you genuinely enjoy during the summer. It is important to commit your summer break to endeavors that you find exhilarating and fascinating. Afterall, it is only after a productive, fun summer that one can return to college to conquer another two semesters of difficult college coursework.