Summer offers students the ephemeral opportunity to get experience beyond the limitations of a classroom or the larger Charlottesville area. But aside from getting a summer job or internship, many students wonder how they’ll be able to fill up those long, warm summer days. The list of opportunities below comes from the recent “Summer Experiences Resources Fair'' and details unique, lesser-known opportunities for undergraduate students to make the most of their summer. 

Go Abroad

Many students dream of spending their summers traveling abroad, but worry that they’ll fall behind if they don’t take major-related courses or participate in an internship over the summer. But there are opportunities for students who want to do both! UVA has programs all over the globe that allow interested students to take unique courses and enhance their academic experience. These programs take place in various locations including Greece, Sweden, Dublin, South Korea, and more, and they often give students a deep perspective into a niche topic. For example, engineering students interested in traveling to Latin America can do a 2-week, “May Term” in Guatemala, where they’ll learn about the intersection of engineering, public health, and the environment. These opportunities to live and learn abroad will not only give you a great summer experience, but will make for a great resume-booster and point of discussion in interviews long into the future. 

Students who are looking to go beyond the classroom and get work experience outside of the United States are also able to do so, via independent global internships. UVA Global Internships connects students with organizations, businesses, and institutions in over 9 nations, all of which seek to employ student-interns, for an average of 8 weeks over the summer. All participating students will complete a 1-credit global internships course while abroad, which will transfer back to their UVA transcript. Learn more about the programs that are available and how to apply here

Conduct Research 

Students who are interested in conducting research over the summer are encouraged to apply to UNLEASH (Undergraduate Novel Learning Experience and Scientific Hands-on), which aims to connect undergraduate students with research opportunities sponsored by the Office of Undergraduate Research. The program also offers mentoring opportunities, in which students are paired with faculty members who have ongoing research projects. Some research positions are paid, while others can offer students university credit. The types of research available span a wide variety of areas, and require different levels of weekly commitment based on the project and program. 

Take a Course - at UVA or Elsewhere

Getting ahead on the courses you need to graduate can be an exceptionally productive way to spend your summer — and not all courses need to be taken at UVA. Students who will be living near another institution are welcome to seek out courses that interest them and apply to have the credits transfer back to UVA. However, be sure to check the transfer equivalency list to see which approved transfer courses are available and what the requirements are for unapproved courses to qualify for transfer credit. 

Participate in Virginia Alumni Mentoring

Given how hectic life can be when school is in session, summer often poses the perfect opportunity to look inward and discover more about where your career interests lie. Getting to know alumni who work at different companies, in various industries, with diverse backgrounds, can offer incredible insight as to what a certain career path could look like. Virginia Alumni Mentoring (VAM) connects UVA alumni with current students to make this possible. Mentoring offers students the opportunity to not only learn more about potential post-graduation plans, but also to build relationships and develop skills and confidence in communications and professionalism. 

UVA Career Accelerator + Coursera

Don’t want to take a whole UVA course or something equivalent over the summer? Consider enhancing your resume with a free online Coursera course instead! These courses cover a range of topics and help students learn practical skills that they can apply in a job or internship in the future. Currently, UVA is featuring their “Google Collection”, which includes courses that teach students about big data and machine learning fundamentals, business transformation with, data exploration, and more. Coursera can be especially great for students who want to work full-time or part-time in addition to learning skills online over the summer. 

So, there are plenty of ways you can build up your resume and maximize your summer experience! And many of these opportunities aren’t mutually exclusive. For example, you can intern abroad over the summer while also learning about big data via Coursera and connecting with an alumni mentor. Summer offers an unparalleled opportunity to explore your interests, so be sure to make it count and get involved with all the different opportunities available to you!