Thinking about what you want to do with your summer or after graduation can be overwhelming, scary, and difficult especially if we feel like we don’t even know where to start or what to look for.
Taking a look at this guide can be a first step to getting on the way to planning for what you want to do and it’s never too early to begin reflecting on what you want, what you need, and what you can do to fulfill those wants and needs.
Where are you coming from?
You may not have all the answers now but it is helpful to take inventory of what position you are in and what this summer will mean for your broader plans. Summer after freshman year will be different than summer after junior year or after graduating. This also means taking inventory of financial and housing needs for the summer. How much money and what resources will you need to be able to meet your needs (including if you have obligations to other people) while living and working somewhere.
Where do you want to be? What do you want to be doing?
Start to think about what general things you may want to do with your summer. If you had your choice, what kinds of things would you like to be doing and where? Your needs will of course influence how you think about what you are interested in. You don’t need to be pressured to pursue your passion at the expense of your needs, but your passion does not have to be completely determined by your needs.
What opportunities exist?
Find out what kind of opportunities exist for things you are interested in. Try and talk to professors, older students, alumni, or anyone else who may have familiarity with that area. Different industries and fields have different timelines and requirements. Try looking on BrownConnect for internships and the Fellowships@Brown portal website for fellowship and research opportunities and be sure to look for and attend info-sessions. You can find more information about finding opportunities here.
Keep track of opportunities that interest you!
As you hear about different opportunities you may want to make a spreadsheet or some other form of documentation. Keep track of deadlines, required materials (such as resumes, cover letters, application essays, etc.), how much you will be payed, and whether they require letters of recommendation. You don’t want to end up in a situation where the deadline sneaks up on you and you end up unable to apply when you could have.
Get more information!
For internships try to talk to people who might have experience in the industry you are trying to work in. It can be useful to talk with faculty members, staff, or deans who may be associated with fellowship or research opportunities you are interested in applying for. For any kind of opportunity, try and talk with other students who have done the thing before. These people will have the most specific information about what the thing is like and the process of applying for it and, if they previously did the opportunity, may be willing to give you information about what their application looked like.
Prepare your application!
Begin to put together your application materials and if you need them, ask people who you would like to write recommendation letters for you if they would be willing to do so. You can seek help putting together parts of your application from the FIRe coordinator, the CareerLAB, and the Writing Center.
Apply and Apply Early!
Apply for any of the opportunities that interest you and would fit with your financial and housing needs. Even if something seems like a long-shot, apply anyway! You’re probably more qualified than you think. Make sure to request your recommendation letters and turn in your own application sooner rather than later. Waiting until the last minute can make it much harder for you to put together a high-quality application. Applying a little bit before the deadline can also give you more time in case any technical difficulties happen with your email, your computer, or whatever website you are using to submit an application.