Freshman Summer: It’s Not That Deep

By Nida Naushad

At Harvard, we’re all familiar with midterm season, formals season, and “the highlight of my day is passing through the warm spot in front of Canaday” season, but we’re now entering yet another Harvard season: “What are you doing this summer?” season. For freshmen, this might be the first time that summer has seemed so important, and the buzz over “summer stuff” can easily become overwhelming.

If you’ve landed the summer of your dreams, you might be more than happy to answer the “what are you doing this summer?” question. If you’re not sure what this summer will bring, however, that question might be less fun. With countless daily emails advertising summer internships, research, study abroad, and more, it’s easy to feel like everyone else has it all figured out, and you’re just the lone, jobless student who reads more rejection letters than class readings these days.

But if you step away from the Harvard bubble, you’ll realize that while you frantically try to search for opportunities that are still open, your friends outside of the bubble couldn’t care less about their freshman summers and are happily planning (or not planning) stress-free summers. Harvard’s culture around summer internships can be intense, especially as a freshman when most opportunities aren’t targeted at you. However, this should be a big clue: Maybe it’s actually not that important what you do during your freshman summer.

As for me, I stressed profusely over summer opportunities throughout freshman fall and spring, but as someone who didn’t even know her concentration yet, I was overwhelmed with the possibilities and competition. How was I supposed to conduct a targeted and successful search when I had no idea what I wanted to do? In the end, I was driven by a desire to get away from home for at least a few weeks, and ended up proctoring on campus for most of the summer. Was it glamorous? No. But here’s the thing: Once I got past the “what are you doing this summer” question, no one cared anymore. My sophomore summer search hasn’t been hindered by the lack of a “resume boosting” freshman summer. In fact, I could have gained similar professional skills and experiences had I headed home for a low-key summer instead of finding summer plans in Cambridge.

So welcome to “what are you doing this summer?” season. If you’ve found the perfect opportunity as a freshman, good for you! Enjoy it, learn from it, and live your best life. But if you still aren’t sure what you’ll be doing or where you’ll be this summer, the same advice goes for you: Enjoy it, learn from it, and live your best life. No matter what you’ll be doing this summer, freshman summer does not define you in any way, shape, or form: It truly is just not that deep.

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