7 Ways to Have a Rewarding Summer

Wondering what to do during the four months between Winter and Fall semesters? Learn something new, develop your skills, and have fun.


With summer rapidly approaching, the relief of finishing classes is right around the corner— though this can also lead to some anxiety if you don't have plans for the next four months. If you haven’t found full-time summer employment, whether by choice or not, there are still plenty of things you can do to advance your career, develop your skills, or just have a great time. Below are things you can do this summer other than working full-time to have a productive and rewarding summer. 

Take Classes

Taking spring and summer courses can get you caught up, or even ahead, in your program so you can pursue extracurricular opportunities during the academic school year. By taking courses through the spring and summer, you can create space to study abroad, take on an internship, or focus on a research opportunity/project. I personally am taking two spring and two summer courses this year because I spent the last 12 months doing an Arts Work Experience internship. You don’t have to follow a traditional school calendar to get the opportunities you want. 

Learn A New Skill or Develop An Existing One

We all want to get better at something: it could be learning a particular skill or software that can put you ahead of your peers in your classes or the job market, or it could be something personally interesting to you. Either way, take some time, whether it’s three hours a day or three hours a week, to pursue a new skill or interest and return to school in the fall feeling accomplished. For me, I know that data analysis is something crucial for Economics students to be competitive in the job market, so I’ll be spending an hour a day this summer getting better at that. 

If you are interested in professional development courses but don’t have the means to pay for them, check out professional development grants like the Green and Gold Grant or the Shell Enhanced Learning Fund


Make a difference while developing skills and adding depth to your resume. Volunteer somewhere you are passionate about, or in an industry you would like to work, or a place where you know you can develop the skills you are interested in. Volunteering can give you the same professional development perks as employment with less of a time commitment. 

Clear Your To-Do List

Maybe you have wanted to network more, re-visit a hobby, or tackle that forever growing to-do list, and the summer is a great time to do that. Make a LinkedIn profile, start going for runs, upgrade that license like you said you would have done years ago, renew that thing that expired forever ago. Clear whatever is on your mind when you said “I’ll get to that later,” so that when you return in the fall you’ll have a clear and fresh mind which will set you up for success. 

Learn More About Your Finances and Investing

Missing out on a full-time job does not mean that you can’t manage your finances. It's worth spending some time researching ways to improve your financial literacy. If the idea of dealing with your own finances scares you, set up an appointment with a professional financial advisor. Or check out some of U of A Alumni's webinars from finance experts Janine Rogan and Bridget Casey

Start a Business

As university students, we tend to undervalue the skills that we already have. There are lots of different businesses that you can start while in school like selling a product on Amazon, running marketing ads, becoming a personal trainer, being a tutor, and flipping products. Businesses take time and investment so if you have both, give it a shot this summer. If you're interested in long-term entrepreneurship, check out the resources offered by eHUB

[Editor's note: Ready Ghalia's story about how U of A's eHUB helps students become entrepreneurs.]


If you’re in a position where you just want to spend the summer recharging your batteries and literally doing “nothing,” that is totally fine. Enjoy the sun, spend some quality time with yourself, restore your mental health, or do whatever you please. Don’t feel guilty for just resting and taking the time for yourself while you have the opportunity.