How U.Va. students are spending their summers

From summer jobs to world travels, Wahoos are choosing their own adventures

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For rising second-year College student Micah Rucci, deciding to return to work as a waiter at Duffer’s — a restaurant in his hometown of Wildwood, N.J. — was the best choice for his needs and interests.

Courtesy Micah Rucci

College is known to bring many newfound freedoms to students — and those freedoms don’t stop with the end of the school year. Students have the freedom of deciding how to spend those three long summer months. 

A 2019 summer plans survey conducted by the University Career Center found that students filled their break with various activities. Out of 7,126 student responses, 44.46 percent are involved in a career-related internship or employment, while 25.34 percent of students engage in non career-related employment. Additionally, 18.87 percent answered that they are attending summer classes, 9.16 percent are volunteering, 8.62 percent are studying abroad, 8.04 percent are participating in a research opportunity and 4.17 percent responded with “Other.” These percentages will not equal 100 because students were able to select multiple options. 

For rising second-year College student Micah Rucci, deciding to return to work as a waiter at Duffer’s — a restaurant in his hometown of Wildwood, N.J. — was the best choice for his needs and interests. Rucci finds that he is able to spend time with friends from home at Duffer’s and make some money at the same time. He spoke about the importance of being happy in the workplace, wherever that may be.

“I think the summer is your one chance to not focus on school and kind of get to kick back, so if you do choose to work, you should have a fun time doing it,” Rucci said, “I feel like this way I get to work with some of my closest friends that I don’t get to see because now I’m in college.”

Additionally, Rucci recognizes that many students, including himself, feel a responsibility to make some money over the summer. 

“If you are in a financial situation where you need to work, there is nothing wrong with any form of labor that you’re doing in the summer,” Rucci said. “I don’t think anyone should be ashamed of waiting tables as opposed to being this prestigious law clerk intern … or any of these really fancy jobs. … We’re super young, we’re going to get the experience, we’re going to have time to prove ourselves.”

Furthermore, Rucci emphasized the value of having a summer job, especially one in the service industry. He noted that too often, people go out to a restaurant and have no understanding of what their server is going through or what their responsibilities are. Rucci also said that waiting tables is a great way to learn vital skills such as clear communication, time management and multitasking. He notes that being a waiter has taught him how to speak to strangers with confidence, which is an incredibly useful skill for making professional connections.

“As trivial as it may sound, speaking to some of my tables in the summer, there have been people who are important and have remembered me,” Rucci said. “And then they ask you questions and want to know more about you, and you may have just landed an internship, or you may have just gotten your name in with someone super important because you served them pancakes and toast.”

Rucci is not the only student who recognizes the importance of networking in seeking job opportunities. Rising fourth-year Education student Aiden Carroll said that he found both of his summer jobs through the connections he had through his major. He provided some advice for other students seeking summer opportunities.

“Take advantage of networking and connections and U.Va. alumni, because they were in the exact same position you were in, they’re very understanding and want to take people on to work because U.Va. has a great reputation for undergraduate students,” Carroll said.

Carroll is spending his summer in Charlottesville teaching with the Boys and Girls Club of Central Virginia, a job which also allows him to travel out of Charlottesville and around Central Virginia. He is teaching a new curriculum called WagiLabs which was developed by a Curry School alumnus in order to teach social entrepreneurship to young people. 

Carroll is also working as a mentoring and publicity intern for Computers for Kids, a non-profit which provides technological devices for underprivileged youth in Charlottesville. He said that the internship was the perfect way to get credit for his practicum requirement for Youth and Social Innovation while doing something that interests him. 

“I think that [Charlottesville] is just such a wonderful place to be in the summer, and also just experiencing this place out of the context of being in school and in class is just so incredibly different and so nice,” Carroll said. “It’s such a rich community and being here for the summer really lets you explore more of the city beyond the University.”

However, some students are taking a different route this summer and flying far away from Charlottesville on study abroad trips. Rising second-year College student Jenny Kim has been studying abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark, and said it has thus far been the best experience of her life.

“I wanted to get out of the house and out of my normal routine, and I have always wanted to go to Europe,” Kim said in an email to The Cavalier Daily. “[It] seemed fitting to get a global education while still enjoying the summer being a tourist.”

Kim said that the experience has made her realize how little she knows about the world and has pushed her learn the ins and outs of a new culture. She said that she has enjoyed making instant friends and having wild adventures with them.

Kim also provided some advice for students looking to fill their summers, noting that the advisors with U.Va. Education Abroad were very helpful in her planning process. Beyond taking advantage of University resources, Kim said that students should ask friends how they have spent past summers in order to seek out new opportunities and ideas.

Although making summer plans can seem daunting, students have found ways to spend their time that bring them joy. Carroll said that deciding how to spend the summer can be simplified if students take into account their actual interests and desires.

“Fill your time with something that you think is worth filling your time,” Carroll said. “I just think life’s too short to spend the summer doing something you don’t want to do just because you think it’s the right thing.”

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