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Patel: Spend your summer doing what you enjoy

Meera Patel, Columnist

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Spring Quarter is almost over, leaving a lot of students thinking of what’s next. It’s a common topic to talk about these days: What are you doing this summer?

That question leads to further questions, as well as a chance to make judgments based on the answer. Many people have this notion that college kids need to be doing something “to build their resume” every summer.

That’s just not true.

Of the many students I’ve talked to, only a few of them have said they don’t know what they’re doing or that they’re going home and taking advantage of one of the last years they can do whatever they want.

So why do we feel this pressure to squander our last few years of enjoying summer on internships, jobs and classes?

Don’t get me wrong; I know that many of us need to work over the break in order to make some money. I’m not saying that it’s acceptable to validate bumming around at home for a few months because it’s your last chance to do so. But there’s a problem when you feel pressure to do something just because you think everyone else is doing it.

It’s important to recognize that we need to do what we want to do, not what we think we should do.

For instance, I knew I didn’t want to work at an engineering firm over the summer. I wanted to do something that would help me to explore job opportunities outside my field of study. But this didn’t stop me from thinking that I had to go to Tech Expo and other career fairs just because my friends were.

Sure, an engineering firm would look great on my resume. But once I realized I didn’t want or need one, I found a job over the summer doing something that I am genuinely excited about.

If you’re doing something that will make you happy, even if it is sitting at home and seeing your family, that will help you in the long run. As driven NU students, we lose sight of what’s really important at the end of the day — whatever it is that makes you happy, not what makes other people happy for you.

The reality of college is you’re supposed to figure out who you are and what you want to do. If you’re so focused on what you should do or how you should feel, then you’re never going to figure out what you want. Sometimes it takes throwing everything you “should” do out the window and trying something completely new and random for you to work it all out.

But if you do go ahead and do an internship, remember that the point is to explore your options and make sure that you’re enjoying yourself. After all, in the long run, what you did with your summer probably won’t change the world. The important thing is if you get something real out of it.

Meera Patel is a McCormick sophomore. She can be reached at meerapatel2015@u.northwestern.edu. If you want to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to opinion@dailynorthwestern.com.

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