The Summer Dilemma

Pablo Pozas-2015 Viterbi Summer Leave a Comment

As college students, summer is always on our mind. When school begins in the fall we already start thinking about how we are going to use our next summer. The word that comes to all our minds is the same: internship.

It sounds magical, right? Sometimes. Other times it sounds terrifying. At least that’s my experience, because people only talk about it in one of two situations: either they are stressed and scrambling trying to get one lined up for the summer, or they are bragging about the one that just made them an offer (and they won’t forget to mention how they turned down thousands just to take him/her.) Desperate and arrogant aren’t the best suits for people. Does it really have to be this way?

Of course not! At the end of my freshman year, I decided to ignore the internship process altogether and take a different route. I decided to go on an adventure. (Best word ever, right?)

It seems like an obvious summer option, but it definitely falls short of all the hype made by internships. They’re easier to hear because internship talk is loud, while adventure talk is distant, elusive, almost like a dream…. Which is why I bring it up. I hadn’t even considered it until my godfather invited me to accompany him on an 800km, 5-week journey on foot across Spain called “El Camino De Santiago.” More than a physical challenge, The Way taught me invaluable things that I would never have learned in an internship. Some of it was really basic stuff, like learning to sleep in a room of 100 people, coping with freezing water in the shower, or managing blister pain and a backpack overload on a daily basis. Other was very tough, like meeting terminally ill people and being exposed to so much suffering. It wasn’t all serious life lessons, though. I learned about meditation from a Swede, nutrition from an Australian, flamenco from a Spaniard, faith from an Italian, self-sufficiency from a Swiss, and a few Irish songs from a Dubliner. On a bigger picture, I had the chance to enjoy a foreign world that had so much to offer, and at the same time, I had the opportunity to look inside myself and discover what really matters to me. Being in constant movement, learning to keep going and adapting, meeting new people every day really changes someone.

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Now, I know what you’re thinking: But adventures cost so much money! Well, I’m glad you brought that up, because there are many ways around this. Actually, a girl from Barcelona that I was walking with told me about some websites that help you travel and work at the same time. (Adventurers always know how to find adventures!)

WWOOOF (Work Exchange On Organic And Succesful Properties)

http://wwoofinternational.org

Workaway (Volunteer and immerse yourself in a new culture abroad)

http://www.workaway.info

Trusted Housesitters (Self-explanatory)

http://www.trustedhousesitters.com/us/

Granted, these options are unconventional, but it just goes to show you that there are many ways of finding your own adventure. If you find these too bold, USC offers many ways for you to go abroad! Viterbi offers an amazing Summer Program in cities like Paris, London, Madrid and Rome. Additionally, there are countless opportunities provided by USC clubs and organizations to work and do service projects internationally, such as Engineers Without Borders. Even if you can’t leave your home over the sumer, you can create your own adventure. Nothing is stopping you from starting your own business, organizing a philanthropic event, or just simply beginning that trail that’s just a few miles away. Adventure is everywhere!

Now that I’ve made my case for an adventurous summer, I should probably say that I am not arguing against taking an internship. Not only that, I’m probably going to apply for some this summer. My point, however, is that not getting an internship isn’t the end of the world. I used to feel like there was this dilemma for college students: to intern or not to intern. That is not the question! You should be asking yourself, “how can I best benefit from this summer?” If you think it is through an internship, so be it, but you better put in all the time and effort to make it work for you.

Just think about this: Next year when you return to school after the break, you will ask people what they did over the summer. They’ll usually say, “I worked for this company,” or, “I worked for that company.” Then, they will ask you what you did over the summer. What will you say? If you plan your summer wisely, you’ll say that you had the best three months of your life, and that you are a better person because of it.

So plan your summer wisely, whether you have an adventure or not, so that you can always give the same answer.

Author

Pablo Pozas-2015

Industrial & Systems Engineering, Class of 2017, Learn more on his profile here!

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