By Camden Lower
As the coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads through the U.S. and shakes the global economy, schools and companies are cancelling events, programs, and encouraging work from home. Though we don’t know how much longer the coronavirus will continue to spread, there’s a chance your summer plans may be cancelled. Here are some ways to prepare for this possibility and still make the most of your summer:
Ask your mentor or boss if you can work remotely
The first thing you should do if your summer plans are canceled is explore the option of working remotely. While this isn’t feasible for many jobs, it is for some. If your boss or mentor lets you know that they may be canceling their company’s internship program or stopping group course work, ask if there is any way you can work from home and still add value to the project or company. Many companies are starting work from home (WFH) in light of the coronavirus and it could be possible for you to do the same. Research laboratories may still have opportunity for remote data input, survey creation, data analysis, or literature reviews. With permission from your boss or mentor, you may figure out how to still engage with the meaningful summer job, internship, or research project you had planned.
Create an internship
Nothing lined up yet? Reach out to potential employers or companies you find inspiring and offer to apprenticeship or help with a project this summer. During the current world situation this will work best for companies that are already digitally based. You could also use a skill you already have such as graphic design, coding, bookkeeping etc and reach out to local companies and offer to create a logo for them, create a website or app, or crunch some numbers. You might not rake in the cash, but the work experience and job skills you’ll gain are worth their weight in gold!
Start your own project
This can look like starting your own website, nonprofit, or hosting community-based events. Think about what you are passionate about, and how you can explore it while doing some good in the world. For example, if you’re interested in student wellness, think about creating a website and writing blog posts with healthy recipes and ways to get active. If you’re passionate about green initiatives, think about how to raise awareness and incorporate improvements into your own life and into your community. Perhaps you, your friends, and your school can pledge Meatless Mondays, or you can initiate a recycling and composting program in your town. The possibilities are endless. It helps to start by thinking about what you care about and what changes or improvements you’d like to see in your life and the lives of those around you.
Conduct your own research
Though you may not be able to go into the lab or out in the field, the internet is a wealth of information. Go to the UA library site where there are numerous databases that you can use to find data for your research. Figuring out what research you may want to conduct is the first step and it’s important to learn more about what research has been already conducted and published in that field or topic. Once you determine what you may want to research, seek the guidance of a mentor. Ask your intended research mentor if they would be willing to mentor you remotely, and work together over email, phone call and video chat. If your original research topic can’t be completed remotely, identify a type of research that can, and contact professors in that field and ask if they would be willing to mentor you.
Plan extracurriculars & clubs for the fall
Getting involved in activities outside the classroom such as student clubs, sports and other pursuits enhances the college experience, providing invaluable opportunities for learning, networking and developing professional skills. Do an inventory of your involvements, and make a plan for the upcoming school year. Explore groups on your campus and opportunities for involvement and leadership. Eller has cubs that cater to every career interest and major and many of these clubs have great alumni networks that you can leverage to land a job.
Polish your personal brand
Whether you’re going to be graduating next year or just seeking a part-time job or internship, you’ll want to showcase your skills and work experience via LinkedIn or by building your own personal website. Make sure to keep it clean and professional, and invest in a great headshot from a professional photographer. Also clean up your digital presence, this can mean reviewing and editing your social media channels to make sure that potential employers can see your best self, or simply cleaning up your laptop, deleting old pictures from your devices and organizing your email inbox. Start your new school year with a clean slate!
Hunker down and study for special skills or standardized tests
If your summer plans got cancelled and you can’t participate in them remotely, you likely have a lot more time on your hands. Take advantage of the fact that you don’t have the distraction of school work or a job or internship, and devote some of your time to studying. Planning to apply to law school, business school or other graduate programs? Maximize your competitiveness by ramping up your study schedule. Summer is an ideal time to study for standardized tests such as the LSAT, GMAT and GRE, because you’re able to focus and devote extra hours on test prep without the distraction and priority of classes during the academic year. This is also a great time to hone your special skills, learn a coding language, become a subject matter expert in a field that interests you, become great at graphic design. These are all skills that will set you apart in job or internship interviews once the job market opens back up. Some great resources to check out are: Udemy, Skillshare, and Coursera.