By: Meghan King
When I think back to my summer before senior year, there were some very important things that I did to prepare for this life-changing phase. Here is my advice for what you should be doing this summer to get ready for your senior year.
- Intern somewhere and learn something. Interning the summer before senior year was very important to my success as a senior. It enabled me to have a professional experience that propelled me with confidence into this “adulthood” thing that started after graduation. By embracing that opportunity, I learned more about myself as a result. Senior year is crunch time for honing in on your passions and making sure that you have a good idea of what you want to do after graduation – grad school, employment, volunteer service, etc. But most importantly, by learning something at my internship, I was able to open doors for my senior year that helped me really understand what my next move was going to be.
- Do some research. What does that mean? You’re going to have to make some big decisions about your future soon. So look up the graduate programs in your major, figure out what apartment hunting may look like, find out what jobs could be available to you with your major and experience, figure out what cities have opportunities you’d be interested in and that you can afford to live in. If you don’t know your options, how do you know you have them?
- Live in the moment. Take pictures, go on day trips, go to the beach, and watch Netflix. This is really important. It is important to embrace this summer because it may be the last summer that doesn’t involve a full time job. So take pictures of your beautiful friends and sleep in…within reason.
- Try to save up some money. Things next year can get pretty expensive, or add up. Your class work or trying to find time for all of the leadership positions you now have because you are a senior may mean less hours at your job than you usually have. So try and use this summer to give yourself a cushion so this isn’t as big of a deal later down the road and you can really embrace this time.
- Look for programs on campus to help you! The Office of Leadership has a Backpack to Briefcase program that’s whole purpose is to help the transition post-graduation. This program has information about apartment hunting, the job search, cooking a real meal (no, not ramen noodles), budgeting, and more. Besides, actually doing the research for these programs helped me a ton senior year – so I know that you will gain something for going when the year starts. There are a lot of programs similar to this at Rutgers, so the summer before your senior year, decide that you are going to attend them once you get back to campus.
- Do not read those “after senior year your life ends” articles. Or read them, that’s fine. But don’t let that negativity ruin this time in your life. Senior year is about making it count and embracing all of things in college you loved and then finding your footing afterwards. Dreading the end of it is not helpful, I’d like to put another narrative out there. Embrace this time, and then embrace it ending. It’s going to be okay.
- Talk to your mentors and role models. The summer before senior year I spoke with my mentors and this allowed me to really get a good idea of how I wanted my senior year to go. I talked to everyone from my boss at my internship, my hall directors from when I was an RA, the president of my student org before me, and my younger sister. These people that can serve as a bouncing board to your ideas and guiding lights when you are lost are invaluable.
- Embrace the questions. You are going to go through phases with this. Get ready for everyone to ask you “how’s it feel to be a senior?” Or the famous “what are you doing after graduation?” And it would not surprise me if that already started. Not knowing how you feel about it is perfectly normally. Take the time to figure it out, and embrace the unknown. I am the most “planning” oriented person in the world, but part of growing up is figuring out that it is okay to not know what is coming next.
Be proactive, take charge of your own future, and embrace this incredible time in your life, and you will be just fine. Congrats Class of 2015 – you are seniors!
Meghan King is a Master of Education candidate at the Rutgers Graduate School of Education with concentrations in Social Studies (K-12) and Urban Education. She is also the Summer Intern for the Office of Leadership & Training and the Site Coordinator for Camp UKnight. Meghan is an alumna of Rutgers University and Douglass Residential College (Class of 2014). In undergrad, she was an RA on the Cook/Douglass campus, Producer of Cabaret Theatre, and Site Leader for Alternative Breaks.