Summer Plans Cancelled? Now What? Get Busy! (Written for Jumpspark Atlanta Summer 2020)

Summer sleepaway camp cancelled? Summer family trip scrapped? Summer job rescinded? Summer 2020 cancelled? NO WAY.

 Remember 3-4 months ago when within one week you had two tests, one quiz, a big project due plus extracurricular activity commitments? And you said to yourself, “Argh, if only I had more time! If only there was more than 24 hours in a day!”  Careful what you wish for, because that extra time you were seeking is finally here! Granted there are still 24 hours in a day but during the pandemic it seems like each day is much longer.  

 Now that you find yourself with extra time on your hands what do you do?  Surely you can’t spend all of your free time making tik-tok videos, snapchatting and chillin’ with Netflix. Right? (okay, don’t answer that)

 If you are in high school or college now, think about this. About a year from now, a person you haven’t met yet but who will have significant influence on your future (e.g. college admissions recruiter or a prospective employer) is going to ask you the following question: “How did you spend your free time while in quarantine?”   And while yes, one answer could be, “Well, I took summer classes online. And I spent time doing jigsaw puzzles with my family and updating my Instagram and VSCO feeds,” colleges and employers will be looking for answers that set you apart from your peers.  Afterall, both colleges and companies want to recruit young adults who go beyond the status quo, demonstrate resilience and turn lemons into lemonade.  Which person will you be?  The person who did what was expected or the one who turned quarantine down time into opportunity?  (I hope you answered the latter!)

 One of your goals for this endless summer should be to fill your days with meaningful and constructive activities that will position you into future greatness.  The idea is to pick one, two or even three projects or activities that fulfill a personal interest and demonstrate productivity.

 Here are some examples of projects you can do this summer:

 Master Microsoft Programs

Perhaps you use MS Word, PowerPoint and Excel at school, but how well do you really know these programs? The better you know each of these mainstream software programs the easier college papers and projects will be and the higher the likelihood you’ll be hired by an employer requiring these skills. Don’t wait until college to learn how to make WOW PowerPoint presentations. Don’t wait until your first professional job to master pivot tables in Excel. 

Learn more here:




 Tour Famous Art Museums

Visit museums all over the world and immerse yourself in art and culture. Learn about different artists and artistic movements by visiting famous art museums worldwide online.  

Resource: Museums with Virtual Tours

 Learn How to Cook Like a Chef

Pick a chef’s cookbook and aspire to make all of the recipes by the end of the summer.  Need inspiration? Watch the movie, Julie and Julia which chronicles New Yorker Julie Powell as she sets a goal to cook all 524 recipes in 365 days from Julia Child’s cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

 Start Building Your Coding Portfolio

As a student, Github is an excellent place to learn coding skills and showcase your programming talent.  Make a your very own code repository now so you will be able to show prospective colleges and employers later.

Resource: Github Student Developer Pack

 Become Fluent in a Foreign Language

Learning a second or third language is helpful and productive.  Using apps such as Duolingo, or Babbel can be a great start.  But the best way to learn a foreign language is to speak it.  Consider finding a penpal from a country that speaks the foreign language. There are many online resources to find a penpal fluent in the language you wish to master. But the best and safest way is to ask your school language teacher/professor if they know a young person living abroad who would be interested in talking to you once a week.

 The project you pick does not need to be anything complicated such as writing a formula to solve Rubik’s cube or painting a mural commemorating a special event.  It simply needs to be something you can wrap your head and heart around. Something that will engage you and motivate you to complete.  Something you can enthusiastically share during an interview with a college admissions person or a hiring manager to demonstrate how you spent your free time to better yourself.