Summer Productivity

This week, we asked the eMentors: How did you spend your summer after high school? How have you spent your summers since beginning college? Read on to see how our eMentors made the most of their breaks between school years!


The summer after high school I took a calculus class and worked as an intern at the City of Kent Law Department. I knew I wanted to save up money before heading off to UW, which is why I decided to continue my job from the school year. I’m sure you guys are wondering why I would choose to take a calculus class during the summer and to be honest, I can’t really remember why I decided to take it. Sounds like a terrible idea, looking back. At the time though, I think I was just trying to avoid taking any math classes at the UW.

My summers in college have been a lot less academic, but still productive. Being in college opens you up to a lot more summer opportunities, specifically study abroad trips and internships. The summer after freshman year I continued working as an intern at the law office and also worked as a deputy field organizer for Governor Gregoire’s re-election campaign. I’m really interested in politics and civic engagement so this internship was a great learning experience. In August of that same summer I went on a three-week trip to Italy to learn about education and immigration. I’ve always loved to travel and this Exploration Seminar reaffirmed my interest in learning about other cultures.

The summer following sophomore year I went on another Exploration Seminar to Ireland and The Netherlands. This one was focused on human rights and international justice (two things that I’ve been interested in since high school). The great thing about studying abroad is that you can get academic credit while exploring places and interests that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to experience.

This past summer was one of my best summers ever…because I was a team leader for GEAR UP! I had great co-workers and I loved spending my days working with high school students. The second half of the summer I studied for the LSAT (not so fun). I think the great thing about summers in college (compared with summers in high school) is that you have access to a lot more opportunities. Summers are the best time to travel, explore your interests, and travel to places you’ve always wanted to visit!


The summer before my freshman year, I participated in an eight week research program called GeNom.  The program started on June 18 and lasted until August 24. I mainly did research, and as part of the program I participated in a two hour math class daily as well as an ethics class.  Having the opportunity to do this program has had a great impact on me, and I am sure everyone else that participated feels the same way.  It helped me to connect with amazing people who continue to support me in my education as an undergrad.  I also made lifelong friends, who share similar interests in education as me.  Application process for most summer programs such as this one, start early in March.   If you have another year still in high school I highly recommend applying to summer programs.  After the program ended in August, I continued to volunteer at my lab until school started in September.

The summer after my freshman year, I found a job on campus and I worked forty hours a week for the whole summer.  I went to the beach a lot to relax and to reconnect with friends that I have made over the school year.  Two weeks before school started in September I went on a vacation to Hawaii with my friends, and spent a week there.  We went snorkeling, surfing, cliff jumping, sky diving and of course we went to a luau. It was amazing!

The summer after my sophomore year, I took summer quarter, and was busy helping my sister run errands for her wedding which took place in August.  I spent a lot of time with my family, and friends, I also had a part time job.  Once summer school was over, I worked full time and at the end of August, I went to France for a study abroad program which lasted until end of December.

Summer quarter after my junior year is my favorite because my beautiful niece was born.  I have been anticipating being an aunt for years, and once my niece was born I spent all my free time in the summer visiting her and just watching her sleep because unfortunately for me, that’s all she did.  After summer quarter was over, I had a whole month where I just relaxed, hung out with friends and tired to plan ahead for my senior year.

This summer there are several things I might do depending on how spring quarter goes.  I will either be taking summer quarter, working, or doing research.  And hopefully I will have some fun and some sort of a vacation.


My summers as a whole have been largely devoted to working.  I’m always extremely busy during the Fall/Winter/Spring quarters so I tend to try and make as much as I can over the summer and live off it while I’m taking classes.

Summer after high school I worked at Cutters Point Coffeehouse.  Working in coffee was a lot of fun for me, but after doing it for a few years already I was pretty well burnt out by that summer.  Luckily I had my nice coworkers and sweet regulars to keep me going!  I remember I spent a lot of time reveling in the fact that I was done with high school.  I’d loved going to Kentlake, but I was excited to have more control over what I was learning, doing, and just my life in general.  I was very much ready to go to college.

Summer after my first year of college I moved home, took a calculus class at my local community college (I had dropped it my first quarter at UW; math isn’t my strong suit), and commuted into Seattle to work as a research assistant for a psychology study I had volunteered for Spring quarter.  I thought it would be absolutely awful to “not get a summer break” but it wasn’t that bad at all!  Only taking one class is wonderfully easy and summer quarters usually end a solid month before fall quarter starts, so I DID technically get a little summer vacation.  The only thing that wasn’t enjoyable was commuting into the city for my job.  It was completely worth it because the pay was great and the experience phenomenal, but my goodness, sitting in traffic for two and a half hours a day can really do a number on your mood!  I think I frequented the little pastry/coffee shop across from where I worked a liiiiiiitle too frequently to “reward” myself for surviving another commute.

Summer after my second year of college was chaotic in an enjoyable way because I worked three different jobs.  That was my first summer as a GEAR UP Team Leader for the Summer Institutes, which is still one of my favorite jobs I’ve had so far.  I loved talking with you guys about college and getting to soak up your energy every day.  It was awesome to get paid to hang out with such interesting and passionate people!  I also worked an internship in the inpatient psychiatric ward at Seattle Children’s Hospital.  For a psychology student hoping to get her child clinical PhD, this internship was a goldmine.  I was exposed to every psychological disorder under the sun and discovered I really enjoyed working with kids who were that acute.  That internship was one of those experiences where you look back and think “That was definitely a crossroads for me career-wise and I like the road I’ve taken”!  My third job was another research assistant job.  We won’t talk about that one.  Let’s just say out of three different jobs, one of them had to suck.  And when you sit at a desk scanning papers for five hours, the job definitely sucks.  However, I was able to listen to all of The Half-Blood Prince and The Deathly Hallows on my IPod while doing it!

I’m not quite sure what this summer has in store for me.  It’s the first time I haven’t had a job set up months ahead of time (what can I say, I’m a planner).  I’ll just keep putting my feelers out until I find something!


At the end of high school I still had not decided which college I had planned on attending- after being accepted to Western Washington University and waitlisted by University of Washington I had comfortably settled on WWU. I liked Western and Bellingham and had close friends going there as well so it seemed like a good choice for me. Of course as soon as I had gotten settled with my decision, I received acceptance into UW as well. This set of a month of procrastination, internal debates, pros/cons lists, and many other mostly ineffective strategies for making my decision. This is when I decided to take the summer off and do some soul searching.

Now that I had justified taking a whole summer off, I was ready to waterski, lounge in the sun, go scuba diving, and hang out with my friends before we all parted ways. I picked up some odd jobs painting or doing small construction but mostly I just did waterskied. I had restored this really old lime green Schwinn and went on daily bike rides to think about where I wanted to go to college and what I wanted to do with my life. I eventually decided on UW because it is so large and has so much to offer I could study and become anything I chose, there was a diversity of opportunity that just was not available at WWU.

This last summer I spent working for my dad’s rental business. I spent about 4 days a week working on old houses from the 1950s in Tacoma and Seattle. This wasn’t too bad- I got to spend all my time outside, but it still was work. The best part of my summer was once again waterskiing. I also went camping on an island in South Puget Sound with some friends and road tripped to Lake Chelan and Lake Wenatchee with my girlfriend. At the very end of the summer I camped for 3 nights in Vantage Washington and went mountain biking, swimming in the Columbia, rock climbing and was nearly bitten by a rattlesnake.

I am hoping this summer to bike the San Juan Islands and road trip to San Francisco along with some more camping trips. Summer is a great time to make money and get internships, but it is also a time to be young and explore, take trips and just relax after 9 months of intense studying.

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