I know, I know, it’s only February and it seems far too early to begin thinking about summer. The thing is, this is the perfect time to begin planning! The summer between first and second year is the last summer break optometry students will have for a while. After this, we will be in class or at externships all summer until graduation- sounds scary right?
Since this is my last summer for a while, I want to make the most out of it! Here are a few ideas about ways to jump-start an exciting summer, regardless of how many you have left.
Whenever I talk with peers about the summer, I often hear, “I really want to travel.” The summer is the perfect opportunity to explore the country or even go international if you have the means. It is best to begin thinking of your travel plans early on because prices are generally lower around March. If you are like me and don’t have the deepest pockets, there are many alternatives that will allow you to travel for little to no money.
When I was in college, one of my coworkers was an Au Pair for the summer in Spain. Basically, she went to Spain and was a nanny for the summer while helping to teach the children how to speak English. She said this is something that is very popular in Europe and she even met many young American students on her block who were doing the same thing. She did this through a very safe company she found online. She was basically getting paid to travel in Europe!
Additionally, I had some friends who did something similar but not with kids. One of them went to Italy with a program that provides housing for students to teach other students English. He only did this for a week or two, but said it was a blast and a great way to save money.
There are also many inexpensive places within the United States to explore. Being from New England, my goal this summer is to explore the other side of the country- maybe Seattle or San Francisco!
One of my favorite things to do over the summer is research. This is a great way to live and work in a new city. ICO has been providing students with research opportunities in cities like Columbus, New York, Berkeley… all over! I personally plan to move back to Boston and continue working on a previous research project there.
The nice thing is that through optometry school, unlike some other large research fields, you are not necessarily expected to have done research before. This means anyone can apply. The best piece of advice I can give to find research is to find a topic that interests you. Then, contact the person in charge of the lab directly. Most research opportunities are not posted online, so don’t be afraid to reach out to labs and ask if they have any open research assistant positions for the summer.
Step Outside your Comfort Zone
There are also many summer job opportunities that do not necessarily need to be related to science or education. One of my college friends got a summer job where he was working in Alaska doing outdoor tours. He said it was an amazing experience and he was paid, too! I have also had many friends who spent their summer teaching kayaking, working as sailing instructors, and working with camps to go on field trips and do fun activities. It is fine to take time to do something fun- you don’t always have to do something just to build a resume. One of my favorite summer jobs was working at a summer camp where, although nothing I did was related to optometry, I learned a lot about myself and who I am as a leader.
There are many choices for what you can spend your summer doing, but you definitely want to start your search early before amazing opportunities have already been snatched up. Overall, don’t forget to take a little time to relax and have fun!