Making the most out of unexpected summer plans

Learning from changing plans

H.A.G.S. or “have a great summer” — the well-known acronym just about every student used to write in yearbooks, wishing their classmates a great summer as the school year came to a close.

Though yearbooks are not very popular in college, many of us do not leave Grounds for the semester without saying bye to our friends and wishing them the best. We also make sure to ask about their summer plans.

When it was time for me to say “goodbye for the summer” to my friends, I was not very excited to answer the impending question — “What are you doing for the summer?” I was happy to hear about my friends’ plans and congratulated them on their accomplishments. They all seemed to have great summers ahead of them.

My plans, however, were mostly up in the air. While I had landed an online news writing internship, it was unpaid, and I needed to find a way to save money over the summer. I applied to several paid internships over the course of the semester, but I was either rejected or had yet to receive a notification.

Within the first week of summer break, I had begun my online internship. I relatively enjoyed doing the research and writing for it, but I soon realized that my workload was much more than I signed up for.

In addition to writing multiple articles a day, I was required to manage the website’s social media, as well as research strategies to increase the amount of followers and follower interaction.

As a young adult, I am quite familiar with social media. However, these accounts are for my own personal use. I never had to worry about posting regularly and gaining followers.

With this big task given to me, which I had very little experience in, I felt drowned in work. For days, I researched social media strategies and tried some out. Between writing articles and working on social media, I was mostly holed up in my room and on my laptop for the first few weeks of summer.

When I finally finished my work, I scavenged the internet for a paid internship. I applied to several and even received an interview for one, but in the end they all turned out to be dead ends. By the beginning of June, I began to apply to jobs at businesses near my house, soon landing a job as a hostess at a restaurant.

I let my internship know about my new job and fortunately was able to get my workload reduced. This left me a little bit of time each day to apply to another internship, in addition to the news one. I soon found a social media internship for a business in D.C. — and it was paid!

If I had seen this internship during the school year, I most likely would have skipped over it. I was interested in writing, editing and similar careers, not social media marketing. However, with the many hours I had spent working on social media already, I figured that I might as well put my work to good use.

I applied to the internship and contacted the store’s owner to follow up. He was very glad to receive my application — he not only had little experience with social media but also had been looking for an intern for over a year!

I soon went to the store for an interview, explaining to him some of the social media work I had done for my other internship. Though I was definitely not a professional, I believed I could apply some of the same strategies, as well as research new ones, to bring more business to his store. I received the internship on the spot and within a week had begun the work for it.

While this summer has not been ideal, it has certainly taught me how to work with — and to be grateful for — the opportunities I have. At the beginning of the summer, I was quite disappointed that I did not land a big-name paid internship in my career field.

However, I have realized that I will sometimes have to learn skills outside of my field, such as social media marketing, in order to reach my end goals. I also will need to start from the bottom. Experience from smaller companies, as well as a variety of skills, will help me to land my ideal job in the near future.

With this, I am somewhat glad my original summer plans did not work out. If given the chance, I would still choose my initial plans for the summer — to have a paid internship in my career field and do the unpaid one in my free time. But this did not happen, and continually going over what-if scenarios in my head does not change that.

Instead, I had to make the most of the opportunities I did have. Because of my hard work, I am confident that next summer will have even more opportunities in store. They may not be exactly what I expect — and that is okay.

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