Students shouldn’t stress this summer, do self-care instead

Mary Kueser, Staff writer

Finding a summer job or internship is hard, and being in a pandemic doesn’t make things any easier for stressed out college kids.

Only 25% of polled college students claim to have been unaffected by the loss of internship opportunities due to COVID-19, according to a July 2020 Forbes article.

There has also been an increasing number of college students who feel like they must give up their dreams in favor of practicality, according to a Mar. 11 2019 The Philadelphia Inquirer article.

It often seems like as students our only option is to work through summers to prepare ourselves for our various careers and life goals we think we should have. 

There is, however, another glorious way. We can take time off.

If you haven’t found a job or internship for the summer that will give you that extra resume boost for your career, don’t. And don’t beat yourself up about it! Take two months without rushing around and find the comforts and joys in what you choose to do.

We have lived through a year of pandemic. We have continued school and work and socially-distanced socialization without faltering, and it is exhausting.

I may not know you personally, but I am proud of you and I know you need a break.

To quote poet Mary Oliver, “It is a serious thing just to be alive on this fresh morning in this broken world.”

Is there something you’ve always wanted to do but your schedule is filled with classes or work or meetings or “normal life?” Do it. 

Summer “break” may seem a far cry from reality, especially for college students. One survey found that 85% of college students experience stress beyond the end of the school year, especially during COVID-19, according to a June 25, 2020 Timely article.

Wouldn’t you love to run barefoot through sand, to sit in the sun without worrying about what time you have to clock in the next day? We are all still young, still kids at heart, and we should take some time to let that part of us enjoy the summer!

I know this viewpoint is incredibly privileged. And I understand if you can’t just “not work” this summer. Instead being forced to handle the responsibilities that life tends to hand out to us. But, you can still find ways to make this summer one for yourself.

You could do something as simple as trying a new sport, eating your lunches outside, or waking up just a bit earlier to make the most of your summer hours, according to a July 20 2015 Work It Daily article.

Or, you could go to your local farmers market, start an at-home garden or make a point to go to a sporting event or outdoor concert according to a June 4 2018 Sittercity article. The possibilities are endless! 

The point of all of this is to highlight that you can have fun and take time to enjoy your summer even if you’ll be working full time. That’s what I’m doing!

I spent the entirety of this semester trying desperately to find a job or internship related to my degree and could propel me into my career ahead of all of my peers. 

Email after email of “Thank you for your interest. We regret to inform you we are pursuing other candidates. XOXO, Company (A,B,C,D,…..),” after a while, it gets discouraging. 

I didn’t want to spend another year doing the same things I’ve always done: work, TV, sleep and waiting for my next day off.

I still have to pay for college, though. I can’t just not work. So instead of working retail in my hometown like I have the last three summers, I’m working retail in Glacier National Park. 

This job isn’t going to advance my career path as a journalist. It will let me run through forests and swim in lakes on my time off. I knew that being able to do what I love when I’m not at work will make this summer great, despite the 9-to-5.

I will not fall behind anyone or risk my career because of this choice. Frankly, future employers will not care if I had an internship at age 20 instead of age 19. Age and ability are not synonymous, and experience at any age is still experience, according to a Nov. 12 2019 ProSky article.

The beginning of COVID-19 saw a huge increase in mental health challenges in the U.S., according to an Aug, 14 2020 study by the Centers for Disease Control. There was also an increased focus on taking care of one’s mental health. People were baking bread, like, all the time. They let themselves relax.

But the return to “normal life” shifted focus away from this era of self-care and “Tiger King” and we forgot how to be kind to ourselves.

If you cannot find a job or an internship that relates perfectly to your career path, it is okay. 

We are, after all, still in a pandemic. You can’t expect to be full speed ahead at all times so please do not beat yourself up over not reaching any daunting goals you may have hovering over your head. You will not be a failure if you cannot find an internship or job. 

College is crazy. Graduating is crazy. Life is crazy!

I only hope that, despite the crazy, you find something, anything, to look forward to this summer. Something you’re doing just for you. 

You deserve it.