Summer Experiences for the University Admissions Portfolio
By Sarah Shriram (a year 11 student)
Summer vacations are a time to do nothing but laze around the house all day. But you might agree that in the end, Netflix shows finish, hanging out with friends becomes tiring and your parents just won’t stop nagging you to “Be useful!” So instead of snacking on 3 bags of chips with your eyes glued to a screen, try what I did: Go volunteer, get a job or intern at a company. This will not only help develop your social skills, but allow you to show the universities you apply to what a well-rounded person you are.
Summer Experience 1: Frappes and More!
My first job ever was at McDonalds: I was ecstatic! I was also glad that my first interview ever wasn’t nearly as scary as I thought. A few days later, I went to the outlet feeling on top of the world …only to be met with the task of cleaning. I had to mop the floors, take out the trash and ask customers if I could clear their plates through all the awkwardness and shyness. Plus, it was boring! I often ran out of things to do. But I’m glad I didn’t quit because it got better as time passed. One day, I finally got to make those cool frappes and drinks that I had dreamed of mixing! I made tons of friends, which made working through rush hours worth it. I have to admit I made countless mistakes, but I learned to accept myself for them and try to improve. I also learned how to interact with people outside my age group from different backgrounds - which will definitely aid me not only in university but also in my future career.
Summer Experience 2: Animal Rescue
Next summer, I decided to volunteer at a wildlife sanctuary that went by the name ACRES. Luckily this time around I had my best friend by my side so I was even more excited to help out cute animals. There were countless turtles, iguanas, snakes, birds, and other species that had been rescued from illegal trading rings. Our daily tasks consisted of making food for the animals, cleaning up their surroundings and tracking their health. Working with animals was not only great fun, but I also deepened my compassion and understanding of others - I’m sure this will help me build even better relationships with people in university and my future workplaces.
Summer Experience 3: Whole New World
Then, the Covid-19 pandemic hit. School and exams were cancelled, much to my delight, and I was left with tons of spare time. My long days of studying and anxiety over exams seemed to be over, and to add the cherry on the top, the boring school days had also come to an end. Then one day, the impossible happened! I actually found myself bored of watching shows on YouTube. Plus, I couldn’t bear to see my mom’s disapproval at how I was spending my time. Thus, I decided to intern at an educational company and add something to my resume. Nervousness overwhelmed me during my first day at the office. There was a huge age gap between me, a 16 year old, and the rest of the staff! Even though at first the experience was unfamiliar and a bit scary, as time went by, I put my writing skills to use as well as helped the content development team, which in turn helped me understand what universities I wanted to apply to and what kind of career I should have in mind. Universities will also likely take good note of my initiative and the work skills that I grasped.
Pushing myself out of my comfort zone to try out unfamiliar tasks wasn’t easy in the slightest, but experiencing different situations prepared me for the world, enhancing my self-confidence. Plus, listing your different experiences on your resume and university applications makes you stand out from others with only academics to display!