Going into my freshman year, I planned on applying to a ton of summer internships, working full-time in a new city, and embracing the CS grind. Then the coronavirus hit. After taking a full two-semester of online coursework, I decided to take a much-needed break. Working full-time was simply not what I had in mind for my summer.

But don’t get me wrong. My summer was still productive—just a little unconventional.

Here’s what I filled my summer with:

Undergraduate Lab Research

This summer I continued my spring research at the Charleston Chiang Lab at the Keck School of Medicine. Throughout my break, I attended lab meetings and developed the quality control pipeline for a population genetics project. The project kept my coding skills sharp since I regularly coded in python and ran bash scripts on the high-performance computing (HPC) cluster. I thoroughly enjoyed the project since I applied my CS skills to what I’m passionate about– bioinformatics. As a result, “work” didn’t quite feel like work.

Community College Classes

Taking classes is another great alternative to working a full-time internship. This summer I took linear algebra and multivariable calculus. While these classes sound tough on paper, they weren’t too bad. My professors were helpful, and the class sizes were small which all my questions got answered. The best part? I finished the CS math requirement which means I can fit in my computational biology and bioinformatics minor.


This one is self-explanatory! I traveled, watched way too much Korean reality TV, worked on some mini projects (check out my neat mechanical keyboard c:) and spent a lot of time with my friends, family, and cat.

If internships don’t seem like a good match, I highly recommend planning your summer this way! Breaks are invaluable to avoiding burnout. Because of the choices I made in my summer, I feel refreshed and ready to go for the fall semester!


Jordan Cahoon

Jordan Cahoon

MAJOR: Computer Science YEAR: Class of 2024 HOMETOWN: Seattle, Washington PRONOUNS: she/her/hers INSTA: @itscahoon On campus, I lead the Center for Artificial Intelligence in Society's Student Branch (CAIS++). Outside of this, I spend the majority of my time conducting undergraduate research in population genetics at the Center for Genetic Epidemiology, part of Keck School of Medicine. In my free time, you can find me baking a yummy treat or scribbling notes in my bullet journal!