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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

WILLARD: Summer planning

Published: September 2, 2005
Section: Opinions

It seems early to start thinking about plans for next summer, as the fall semester has barely begun. Depending on what you want to get out of a summer, however, it may be a good idea to reflect on what you did this past summer at the very least. Whether your goal is to gain experience out of interest or in preparation for life after Brandeis, or you just want to make some extra cash for the upcoming year, you should seek out opportunities that are most worth your time. The best way to encourage a rewarding summer experience is to think now about what you would change about your time spent this year before the inevitable stress and distractions of a new semester leave you with a faded memory of even having all that time off from school.

Junior Sanhita Choudhury took advantage of her summer this year by applying for internships that covered her interests in health care and business. By applying in the first months of the spring semester, she scored an internship at the Department of Finance for Mount Sinai Hospital and Medical School in New York City. Choudhury was also offered private wealth management internships at UBS and Smith Barney, but decided on Mount Sinai because of the opportunity to work more directly with upper management in a smaller company where she could stand out and gain more experience when responsibilities were dealt out to two interns instead of ten or more. Choudhury is not only glad she now has access to great recommendations from working directly under the director of finance, but says she is also glad to have gained many close relationships with her co-workers who she can count on for both friendly and career advice.

Another Brandeis student had an equally positive experience in a completely different field. After applying to a few theater internship programs both near and away from home, she was offered an internship at the highly regarded Vassar theater institute. Her internship at Vassar focused on the uses of sound equipment in theater, which was an area about which she knew little. Living in Poughkeepsie, NY also meant that she would be living in an apartment with a few strangers who were a bit older than her for two months. Many people like to stay comfortable in a summer job or internship, but sometimes the most rewarding experiences come about when trying something new in a different environment like this motivated theater student. She said she was glad to now have another skill in theater, but thought the most important aspect of her internship was the people she worked with from all over the world who care so much about their work. She said she thinks she has made great connections and recommendations for life after Brandeis, but also values the friendships she made and how the love of theater brought them together.

While internships can provide for an amazing summer, a job you love and that pays well can be equally worthwhile. Jessica Whitman-Raymond 07 did the latter this year as a park ranger at Hopkinton State Park in Massachusetts. She said she enjoyed sharing her love of the outdoors this summer by leading nature walks and similar activities around the park-range. Whitman-Raymond said she got the job by contacting her state representative who set up an interview to place her in a park close to home. As much as she liked getting to know the different people who camped at the park this summer, she was even more pleased with the great staff she worked with over the past few months. Whether or not you find a job you like as much as this nature-loving junior did, many people agree that a staff that gets along well together can make all the difference.

These are only a few examples of how to find a great summer experience. Others found rewarding volunteer work, studied in another country, and worked away from home at an ordinary job to get the extraordinary experience of living somewhere different for a few months. We only have a few summers between our years at Brandeis before we have to go out into the real world, so try not to miss out on the many opportunities available before these four month vacations are gone.

Whether you use the time to focus on an interest, to make some money, or to gain experience for your major or career, planning ahead of time not only makes you think of the possibilities, but helps find something youll have reason to love. No one is expected to plan their summer by October, but watch out for deadlines on applications that may come up sooner than you think for competitive internships and jobs and dont forget about what you loved or hated about this past summer too soon.