“Our only rule is that you do something this summer,” Ellie Thomson’s parents instructed, “Find an internship, get a job, take a class, just no goofing off the entire time.”
Easy enough, I thought. May, June, and July: three completely empty and incredibly humid months between my sophomore and junior year, in which I had nothing but time and my apartment in downtown Charleston. I started to work at an ice cream store scooping happy tourists some frozen sugar. After work I’d hit the beach and find a new restaurant at night – it was the start of the ideal summer. Bliss.
Well, maybe not. I soon decided the long, late hours of the ice cream world just were not for me. I said hasta la vista to the food and bev world and began saying yes to every babysitting or odd job thrown my way. Between working the church nursery on Sundays and helping out different families during the week, I created a flexible schedule that also allowed me time to intern for the College of Charleston’s marketing division, where I handle social media and write for the College’s news site, The College Today.
With babysitting, interning, and exploring Charleston with friends, I’ve figured out how to round out my summer to make it an enjoyable, yet meaningful one as well. My three roommates, all rising juniors, similarly carved out time in their summer schedules to fit in all the things they just couldn’t fit in during the busy school year. Here are their summer experiences:
The Intern: As an arts management and art history double major, Maddie Stauss decided this summer was the perfect opportunity to immerse herself in the thriving Charleston art scene. After several impressive internship offers, her heart chose Charleston Artist Collective, a web-based business where local artists sell original pieces as well as “themed” pieces whose proceeds partially benefit a local charity. Maddie “wanted the opportunity to get to know the local Charleston art community, make connections, and understand how a small business works.”
Maddie is exposed to new artists and business models each week. In May, she got to experience Spoleto Festival USA, the grandest Charleston arts event of the year (many students miss the two-week long arts festival as it happens after spring semester ends). Whether you intern or just attend the myriad events, it’s a magical time in this beautiful city with concerts, plays, and art shows on and around campus.
The Working Woman: Spunky Sidney’s alarm rings: her signal it’s time to get up, get dressed, grab an iced coffee and buttered bagel from Caviar & Bananas, and get to whichever babysitting gig she has lined up for the day. If anyone has mastered the art of arranging a schedule that perfectly balances work and play, it’s Sid. Working the church nursery during the school year, Sidney Bauer says she often has to decline other babysitting jobs due to volunteer commitments and studying. With school out for the summer, many of the families she works with have been looking for flexible help outside the nursery.
Without a regimented schedule, it’s the perfect way for Sid to make some cash and set her own hours. Between vacation bible school, Sunday morning nursery care, and helping out different families during the week, Sidney keeps busy but still has the time to relax at the beach, get her crêpe fix at the Saturday morning farmers market, and occasionally cheer on the minor league RiverDogs, another perk of hanging around Charleston in the summer.
The Student: As a marine biology major, Anna Harwood has a lot of classes to squeeze into her four years at the College. To ease the load, she decided to enroll in summer courses. The College offers three summer course segments: Maymester, Summer I and Summer II. Anna’s early alarm signals it’s soon time for her 8 a.m. organic chemistry class. Once she survives this Summer Session I, she’ll trade the classroom for her laptop during Summer Session II, where she will take an online sustainability course as part of her environmental studies minor.
The early wake-up call is rough, but Anna is knocking out some tough courses that she won’t have to stress over during a busier semester in the academic year. Anna ultimately chose summer classes because she “could use the time to focus on a difficult course like organic, but also make room in her future schedule to take fun courses or study abroad.” And thanks to her hard work over the summer, she will be well prepared to fulfill her dream of studying abroad in Australia next spring.
Summer in Charleston is what you make it. Score your dream internship, find a job, or knock out some classes…it’s up to you. I recommend you find a way to combine these for an unforgettable, meaningful, and productive summer. Oh and don’t forget to leave some time for RiverDogs games, outdoor concerts, food truck festivals, and beach days. Taking advantage of the summer to slow down and enjoy everything this wonderful city and campus have to offer has given me so many new reasons to fall in love with Charleston and the College again and again every day.
Your summer in Charleston is exactly that, yours. My friends and I each made our summer our own by doing the things we just don’t have time for during busy semesters. Heeding my parents advice and also allowing time to do all things and see all the places and eat all the food I don’t have time for during the school year has led to an unforgettable summer.
This article was written by Ellie Thomson, a junior from Birmingham, Alabama, majoring in political science in the Honors College at the College of Charleston.