March will come around and you’ll hear it. The whispers echoing around Annenberg. Around your entryway. In your dorm room. It’s inescapable: “What are your summer plans?” People FREAK THE F*CK OUT, and often unnecessarily so. Here are some suggestions.
OCS Study Abroad
Sad truth time: Harvard kids don’t really take the typical Junior-fall semester abroad. It’s a cultural, I-want-to-take-over-the-school-I-don’t-have-time-for-France thing. Luckily, the summer between freshman and sophomore year is a little different. (Debatable.) Browse through the list of countries at the Office of International Education’s website and apply for a study abroad program, offering a taste of international experience without compromising your pre-med/law/business dreams. And if you’re particularly fond of your stacks on stacks, you’ll be relieved to hear that financing options are available through the Harvard Financial Aid Office and the Office of Career Services.
Be a Let’s Go Researcher-Writer
The world: it’s shining, shimmering, splendid. That was from Aladdin, but you know what? He had a point. So become a Researcher-Writer for Let’s Go. For 59 years, Let’s Go has been publishing the world’s favorite budget travel guide series, written entirely by Harvard students. You’ll be sent to Rome or Prague or even Havana, backpacking from neighborhood to neighborhood. Let’s Go will cover your travel expenses; all you need to do is write, heartily and genuinely. Gain a heightened sense of the world and fab ~wanderlust~ pics.
If you perform particularly well in a class or become total besties with your seminar professor or are pre-med, don’t be afraid to ask around for research opportunities, both on campus and back home. While spots are occasionally saved for upperclassmen, lucky freshmen can snag some pretty cool research jobs every summer, from embarking on archaeological digs to proposing new economic models for developing countries. You know. Typical Harvard stuff.
Find a Start-Up
You want “real-world experience?” Ugh. FINE. Here’s the deal: Do some research into burgeoning start-ups around the whole damn US of A. Send out emails that go something like this: “Hi! I’m (insert name)! I’m a Harvard freshman and I love your company and you and puppies and America and please let me intern for you.” One of them will bite. Trust us. You probably won’t get paid. But you’ll get the “experience” you long for. You know. Making copies. Printing shit. Delivering coffee. Pro tip: Go to the start-up career in February—some app developers will be there scouting for enthusiastic freshmen who look like they can make a mean cappuccino.
Freshman year is long. It’s tough. It’s messy and memorable and has good moments and bad ones and IT’S JUST A LOT OKAY. But seriously. Nobody gives a shit what you do after freshmen summer except for that one crazy kid in your Econ section. So go home and enjoy yourself. Relax. Get swole. Lifeguard. Tutor. Catch up with friends. Travel.