May 2017

Just for Families

Summer Break has Hidden Opportunities

by Michelle Flint ‘91
Mentor Program Coordinator, Center for Engagement and Opportunity

Students have almost finished their spring semester at New College, and like college students everywhere, they may have two goals in mind: to get a summer job or internship, and to take a mental break from sometimes intense studies.

These are important goals, and we support students in them. But oftentimes, there are hidden opportunities in a summer break that can be overlooked.

Take a free MOOC online to build your technical skill set.

MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course and the number of MOOCs available has exploded in recent years, including courses offered by prestigious universities like Princeton and Stanford. Many are free.

Use a MOOC to build skills you are curious about, or skills you know you will need in your future career but which you might not be able to easily fit into your New College course load. Examples might include: photography, web design, filmmaking, basic accounting, PhotoShop, negotiation, or social media marketing.

To get started exploring MOOCs, do a Google search for your MOOC topic or go to: Or see this curated list of career-savvy options:

Build a website for fun.

Building your own website is a great way to showcase the collection of your creative work, be it art, music, social commentary, computer science, travel photography — you name it. A website can serve as a digital portfolio when you meet others in your field or want to show your chops to potential employers. And, if you’re thinking of starting your own business someday, you can learn the ins and outs of web design now, while there’s time to tinker.

Many new web host sites make it super easy, with adaptable templates and video tutorials. Try,, or compare options with articles like this one.

Learn something just for you.

Summer can be a great time to learn something just for personal growth, something just for the pleasure of it, or to get a handle on that “adulting” thing. Here’s a sampling of what we mean:

  • Tai chi, yoga, or meditation
  • Martial arts, stand up paddleboarding, ballroom dancing, rock climbing, or other fitness activities that build both physical fitness and mental concentration
  • Cooking class
  • Take just-for-fun art classes: Sculpting, fiber arts, glass blowing, printmaking, papermaking, jewelry making, etc. (Check your local community college, art center, or even your local parks and rec center for adult classes.)
  • Take “adulting” classes

Classes like these are great for renewal and getting into flow, which is essential for well-being. And, they have many potential side-benefits: meeting new people, discovering a new talent or lifelong passion, exploring your creativity, inspiring your academic work, or just getting out of your head for a change of pace.

Get out of your comfort zone

There are tons of jobs out there that have a decidedly adventurous spirit. And, sometimes stretching yourself with an adventure job is the perfect way to unwind from a stressful semester, or to expand your self-confidence. If you haven’t yet committed to a summer job, check out, which specifically focuses on “short-term job adventures.” For outdoor and adventure jobs (anywhere in the world) that require technical skills like paddling or rock climbing, try For “regular” jobs in incredible locations, try And finally, for a blog article on paid travel jobs (and how to get them), try

Regardless of what you try, take advantage of your summer to try something new, to purposefully renew, or to challenge yourself. Happy adventuring!

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