As students are generally free from school and work commitments, summer is the perfect time to explore one’s interests and the opportunities available in the community. One should bear in mind that colleges do take volunteer activities and field-related experience into consideration, in addition to simply grades and academic achievements. In the long-run, when one graduates, employers and grad schools also look for the same – a well-rounded individual who has experience in one’s field and out of it and being able to make connections between the two.
Therefore, it is important to take advantage of the opportunities available. In regards to internships, the projects are usually long-term and should relate to one’s field of career interest. An internship should be treated as a job or an entry into one’s future career. One website that can help students locate internships is www.interninmichigan.com. The website is a part of Classroom to Career which focuses on allowing students the opportunity to apply their coursework and theoretical knowledge to real-world work situations by matching students’ interests, skills, and aspirations with employers looking for qualified interns.
The Michigan Muslim Community Council has also created a database of internship opportunities for high school and college students available through Michigan Muslim non-profits. A wide variety of fields and skill areas are represented in the database. Therefore it is highly encouraged to complete the form and possibly get a chance to not only take part in professional/career development, but also help some of the organizations that work hard to provide for this community. To complete the application form or for more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
When it comes to volunteer opportunities, there is more flexibility in that one does not necessarily have to stick to areas related to one’s career aspirations. Almost any volunteer project, regardless if it relates to the field of interest or not, can allow students to develop skills, such as communication and management skills, that are transferable to any career.
Volunteer opportunities can also contribute to expanding one’s worldview- again, contributing to becoming a well-rounded individual. At the very least, even a simple boost of confidence is going in the right direction in regards to one’s development. The key is to participate, genuinely reflect, and find the connections to apply to other areas of one’s personal, educational, and professional life.
A couple of very good websites to look for volunteer projects, whether they are day projects, short-term, or long term projects, are United Way (www.liveunitedsem.org) and Volunteer Match (www.volunteermatch.org). Sometimes, a simple Google Search will also provide one with great leads of opportunities that many might not have known existed in the area.
Summer is the time for many outdoor and environmental projects, such as those provided by Friends of the Rouge. In addition, with Ramadan around the corner, even more opportunities are going to be available, such as Muslim Family Services’ Sponsor-A-Family Ramadan Project. One should also consider joining mailing lists, such as those on Yahoo! Groups (i.e. Michigan Muslims, MCN-Muslims, etc.) as they provide a daily digest of ongoing and upcoming events and opportunities.
Finally, another way to invest in the future, whether through professional or personal development, is to take a class or two. It’s not volunteering or interning, but it provides the joy of learning. This can be a class that relates to one’s professional development, such as the EWL Writing Workshops Series being offered this summer allowing participants to express themselves and become published writers. On the other hand, it can be something that has nothing to do with one’s professional or career path, such as classes of glass-blowing, fishing, skateboarding, horseback riding, and other hobbies or interests. It may be harder to “reflect and connect” such classes to career interests, but nonetheless as the saying goes, “Knowledge is Power;” even if it is only personal knowledge.
Therefore, use this summer as a platform to not only explore and develop career interests and skills, but also personal ones. The best part is that one has the ultimate flexibility of deciding how much time one wants to commit and in what way and then choosing a project or class that matches those preferences. In the end, going out and developing oneself professionally, helping in the community, or simply earning “bragging rights” by learning something new and unique, enhances one’s summer experience one way or another; a better alternative than staying at home and trying to pass time.