What to do with your summer as an L&S student

March 7, 2022

Three students on Memorial Glade, reading and playing guitarWhen it comes to mapping out your time at Cal, those summers offer a lot of possibility! We're here to offer some ideas on what you might do with your summers. 

Also, keep an eye out for the annual Summer Opportunities Fair to further explore these opportunities! 

Summer classes

Summer offers great opportunities to continue making progress toward your degree. There are great options to take classes at UC Berkeley or at California Community College, depending on the requirements you're hoping to work on.

Is it a good option for me?

Taking summer clasess can be helpful for students who are feeling a little behind in their major direction, are still exploring major directions, or are interested in graduating early. 

Be thoughtful about creating a long term program plan that includes coursework every summer. While this plan can work for some students, it can lead to burnout or prevent you from having time for meaningful career exploration and preparation. Consider going over your plan with an L&S College Adviser to talk through all of your options.

Summer minors

UC Berkeley offers some minors that can be completed in the course of one summer. You could earn a minor in:

  • Race and the Law
  • Global Public Health
  • Journalism
  • Clinical & Counseling Psychology
  • New for 2022: Sustainable Business and Policy
  • and more!

Check out the whole catalog at the UC Berkeley Summer Sessions: Summer Minors page. 

IS IT A GOOD OPTION FOR ME?

Summer minors require a lot of time, so be prepared to commit your summer. That said, many allow you to complete the minor over two summers if needed. There are also great scholarship options for completing summer minors for $1500 (more information on the link above). 

Career Exploration/Prep

Summer is a great time for hands on experiences that can help you figure out what you want to do after Cal or add to your resume. Many internship programs take place in the summer. Also, taking a break from school work and completely focusing on hands-on work can be a great refresher between the school years. 

IS IT A GOOD OPTION FOR ME?

These experiences are incredibly valuable for students to prepare for their next step after graduation. Remember that these experiences take a lot of different forms: 

  • Shadowing
  • Informational interviewing
  • Volunteer work
  • Part-time or seasonal jobs
  • Research projects

We recommend talking with a career counselor to make a plan for hands-on experiences during your time at Cal and see what options might be best for you. Check out our article, Career Library vs. Career Center: What's the Difference? to find the service that's best for you.

Research

While there are multiple options for getting into research during the summer, the SURF (Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships) program is a particularly great opportunity. The SURF L&S fellowship allows L&S undergraduates to spend the summer doing concentrated research in preparation for a senior thesis. Fellows receive $5000!

Check out our Discover Research page for other ways to get involved. 

IS IT A GOOD OPTION FOR ME?

Participating in research allows you to dig deep into your field of study and even contribute to it! Research is especially valuable if you are considering pursuing a research career or graduate school. Check out our article, "The 3 things MA/PhD programs are looking for."

Study abroad, UCDC, or similar programs

As we covered in our article, "Can I study abroad with my major?", summer is a popular time to study abroad. Studying abroad in the summer gives students a lot of flexibility in the programs they choose without interrupting even the most structured major program plans. 

This also makes it a great time to participate in programs like UCDC, which is a high-caliber, unit-bearing internship program located in Washington, D.C. 

Similar opportunities to explore: 

IS IT A GOOD OPTION FOR ME?

These are special opportunities that can be hard to replicate outside of your undergraduate experience. If you're intrigued by spending a summer in another location, these programs not only help you explore new places, but contribute to your academic progress (and possibly your career prep) all in one!

Take a break (or at least slow it down)

While we've shared a lot of exciting options for summer, remember that this is also a time to refresh from a demanding school year. Consider what helps you recharge. Spending time with family? Having a few weeks with no commitments? Taking a lighter load so you can spend afternoons bird-watching? 

If you push yourself as hard as you do during the school year, you may begin to feel burnt out. Be honest with yourself about what you need. At the end of the day, academic advisers and career counselors can support you in planning for your future in a variety of ways. Sometimes the best thing for you to do during summer is to enjoy some sunshine. 

Back to Discover Opportunities and Connect on Campus

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