By Melody Young
Summer break welcomes the sweet season of relaxation, but for many, the novelty of freedom wears off quickly. By the second month, many students begin to feel bored and ultimately realize that they been unproductive all summer long. However, many students fail to realize that summer break can be beneficial to their personal and professional development. Instead of staying in bed for two months, students can participate in summer programs, jobs, internships, or volunteering opportunities that can help them grow to become well-rounded and better prepared individuals for life after high school.
Jobs, internships, and volunteering opportunities are key to skills training and hands-on career exploration. In addition, they provide a strong foundation for a solid resume, which is valuable for both job and college applications. Granted volunteering opportunities do not give monetary pay, they are still equally valuable and are less competitive and more widely available throughout the community. Some of the current opportunities include volunteering at the Northridge Hospital and the Los Angeles Animal Services shelters. Another volunteering opportunity directed towards more active girls, is a junior coach position for Girls on the Run program, a non-profit organization that aims to teach female empowerment through running.
Another way to gain useful experiences and refine skills is to attend summer programs. Marilyn Koziatek, the GHCHS Community Outreach Coordinator helped start the summer program search by emailing out a list of summer programs to every student. The listed programs are only a fraction of the selection of programs available. If nothing in that list interests you, a simple internet search will yield plenty of opportunities. To get started, students can look on the community outreach page on the Granada Hills Charter High School (GHCHS) website. On the summer sub-page of the community outreach page, some of the currently listed summer programs are Heritage Language Program, California State Summer School for Math and Science (COSMOS), the Ronald Reagan Leadership Program, Engineering Possibilities in College (EPIC), Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and California State Summer School for the Arts (CSSSA).
Due to possible cost and additional work during the summer, many students hesitate at the idea of participating in summer programs. However, there is a wide variety of summer programs that cater to many different interests, and not all programs require fees.
Last year’s most notable program for GHCHS students was Girls Who Code, a free and local seven-week summer program that teaches girls computer science. A relatively new field, computer science remains predominantly male. As such, the Girls Who Code summer program teaches rising female juniors in high school some of the foundational computer science skills, such as coding and web design, and exposes them to the professional world of computer science.
Although applying for summer program opportunities has recently become more competitive, students should not shy away from the difficulty. In order to have a successful summer program hunt, start researching early. It is important to be aware of deadlines so that you can complete all the components of the application on time.
Second, do not procrastinate, and submit your application early. Some programs close the application period as soon as they fill up all the available spots with qualified individuals. Third, apply to several programs because competition is fierce and acceptance is not guaranteed even if you think you meet all the requirements.
Whatever your interest may be, there is a summer program, internship, job, or volunteer opportunity for you. Make good use of your summer doing something fun that also allows you to explore careers, refine yourself and your interests, and equip you with experiences and skills useful in the real world.