Upon completion of a second wonderful year of college, I’m flooded with updates from friends telling me what internships they’re about to begin, how it will look on their beautifully groomed résumé, and their anticipation of how their first day of (unpaid) work in the “real world” will unfold. Make no mistake, I am incredibly proud of each and every one of my fabulous friends who are making it one step closer to their career. But, I can wholeheartedly say that I am glad I’m not one of them.
Remember what it was like in grade school? We would anxiously count down the minutes until we could spend the whole day splashing in the pool, counting down the last tick-tock until the final bell would ring and the responsibility of taking test after test would fade into a mere memory. Who says that has to stop now that we’re in college?
We spend all semester cramming for exams and pulling all nighters. But when we make it to the finish line as we victoriously turn in our last exam, we are not greeted by confetti and champagne (although, we should). We are instead met with the pressure of résumé boosting and career building. So, we thus enter the workforce.
Not so fast.
By “entering the workforce,” many of us are actually faced with the reality of long days spent making copies and going on coffee runs. Not to be forgotten: most of us do this unpaid. For many, we’re faced with the pressure of accepting an unpaid internship in a big city far away from home with astronomic rent costs.
So, I decided I’m not doing it. Not this summer, at least. As college students, we are constantly reminded that we need to be soaking up each tiny moment in the four years that will inevitably fly by in the blink of an eye. But yet, we spend a majority of our time figuring out how we can get ready for our future job.
When talking with someone facing the end of their life, how often do they say that they wish they worked more? How often do they say that they wish they had logged more hours in the office to get one step further in their career?
What they really say is that they wish they had traveled more. Laughed more. Spent more time with the ones who matter most. We have our entire lives to work (and actually make money for it). But we are not often faced with the opportunity to spontaneously take off on a road trip with our best friends, work at a summer camp, or finally pick up that hobby we’ve been yearning to try.
Instead of filling up our résumés, why aren’t we filling up stamps on our passports? Instead of sitting in a cubicle sending emails under fluorescent lighting, why aren’t we out feeling the gleaming sun shine down on our skin? Let’s spend our summers enjoying the fleeting moments of freedom that arrive with college instead of rushing to the monotonous 9 to 5 office job that we have the rest of our lives to get back to.
If you have an absolutely spectacular summer internship, then kudos. But if not, don’t pressure yourself into settling. My philosophy is to spend at least one or two college summers making memories instead of making copies. This summer, I’m going to put down that afternoon coffee and pick up that fresh squeezed lemonade. Who’s with me?