As a transitioning student between 3rd and 4th year with no exams to look forward to, it sounds like a peaceful time. Except when you open LinkedIn to find someone or the other starting their internship at these brands companies. The next thing you know, you do what you do best. Get back into bed with ice cream and coffee( or whatever else it is that you like) and binge-watch Sherlock. Again.
The summer before the 4th year is one of the busiest summers, and for those of us who do not have an internship, the FOMO is real, but more importantly, the existential crisis hits like a load of trucks.
Well, I’m in the same boat. As much as I would love to celebrate the internships for all my friends, it’s hard knowing that I do not have that experience right now, I won’t have an added line to my resume, and just the good old “I have nothing to do or look forward to when I wake up” syndrome. All valid reasons and concerns, but I’m hoping the lessons I’ve learnt in the last month will help some of you out.
- Do not compare yourself to anyone.
Everyone’s journey is different. And while it’s great to keep an eye out on what your friends and the people you look up to do, the moment the scrolling on LinkedIn( or any other social media) becomes a reason to be critical of your journey, you need to step back. You know what I’m talking about; you see all these people getting into companies and schools, stalking them, only to find that you haven’t done half as much of them, and then spiral with a frantic and hollow feeling of not knowing what you’re doing. That.
Somebody else achieving something is not a reason for you to disregard your own journey. Honour your journey and be patient with it. Good things take time.
2. Come with a plan
I love a good plan. I spent an entire Saturday afternoon charting out the things I wanted to do. Now, you don’t need a list of 25 things, or even 10. You can pick three things that you really want to do or achieve this summer.
My list mostly contained courses and projects I wanted to prepare myself for my upcoming placement season and polish my portfolio.
- Deepen my MySQL and Data Visualization skills through mini-projects
- Do one end-to-end project using ML and Django
- Practice questions on Leetcode
Having a few broad umbrellas to work under gives you some direction and enough flexibility as you work your way through the summer.
As you tackle each week, it’s best to sketch out more particular tasks and things to do. Personally, I find that working this way gives me something to look forward to each day.
3. Apply your Skills
You’ve probably heard this too many times, and I hate that the person who said this cause, unfortunately, they were right. “Knowledge is of no value unless you put it into practice.”
As someone learning to code and deepen their data science skills, applying the concepts with the languages and libraries is vital.
If you are data enthusiasts and AI enthusiasts like myself, the #66daysofData is a great way to keep track of your progress. Like Julie from Julie and Julia said, “It’s a regimen, Mom. It gives you something to do each day, one day at a time.”
It doesn’t even have to be anything like #66daysofddata or #100ofcode. You can curate your own version of these challenges to keep yourself accountable. The only rules:
- Pick one umbrella domain to work on for a set number of days
- Set a minimum time limit that you need to work for each day. (Mine is 30 minutes)
- Get an accountability partner
Ideally, these challenges require you to take to social media, but if that’s not your thing, grab a friend and update each other on a regular basis.
4. It’s okay to take small steps
Confession time: I am incredibly impatient. Playing the long game is an actual skill and talent and requires a lot of perseverance.
The truth is you really can not jump from a 10 to a 100. You have to take small steps, be it 10s, 2s, 1s or even 0.5s.
As someone exploring and understanding data analytics better, I was overwhelmed in the beginning. I had the skills but was apprehensive of applying them. So, guided projects came to the rescue. Sometimes it felt like ( and occasionally still feels like) I’m not skilled enough, but actually, doing those projects gave me so much clarity. So if you need to start small and do guided projects, go for it!
Here are some of my favourite places to do guided projects:
5. Remember the purpose
The idea of doing these projects or courses or whatever you choose to do this summer instead of an internship is to gain a new skill set or deepen your skillset. Doing an excessive number of projects is not a way to overcompensate for the lack of an internship, because honestly, you are not compensating for the lack of anything. It’s easy to forget why we started in the first place and just wind up copying code aimlessly. Been there, done that, would not recommend it at all.
At the end of the day, it’s always quality >>> quantity. Spend time with your dataset, and try to come up with a question you hope it will answer. As you go through guided projects and your own curated projects, a lot of this will come easier. Frustration is unavoidable, but perhaps we can choose not to act on it.
6. Do not stress out
Hate to break it to you, but stress is not fun and definitely not invited this summer. I hope you won’t let stress steer you away from the journey you are taking this summer! If you do get stressed, talk to a friend, chances are they relate to you. If that isn’t your thing, remember it’s okay to step away from what you are doing to indulge in some self-care. Mental health is important. In a world that romanticises hustle culture, don’t let it convince you that your health should come second.
I’m hoping that this article brought some comfort and perhaps some inspiration too. Happy Summer!