Last week, we discussed how volunteering and pursuing internships during the summer can help give your resume that extra OOMPH that it needed. Today, we’ll continue by exploring research, independent projects, and informal online classes.
Research and Independent Projects
Perhaps the most difficult summer activity to get started on is research and independent projects. This is because they are usually self-drafted, meaning that you have no organizational guidance to rely on. However, this is the very aspect that appeals to college admissions counselors! These projects demonstrate your proactivity and self-motivation and are ideal for students who have already identified their intended major or career goals.
Where to begin:
Identify a question that you want to answer. This should be very specific to your intended field. Here’s an example scenario:
Baylee is a Psychology major with an interest in working with senior citizens. During their time volunteering at the local retirement home, they notice that the residents’ moods seemed to pick up after their daily walks. She wonders if being outdoors in nature positively impacted the overall emotional and mental well-being of seniors. Was it the exercise? What are the long-term and short-term benefits? Baylee brings her questions to the director of the retirement home and gets permission to ask residents to participate in her research project. She asks residents to fill out a brief survey about their emotional state before and after an outdoor excursion. She categorizes participants into residents who don’t go outside, those who go outside but abstain from physical activity, and those who go outside and partake in some form of exercise. By the end of the summer, she has compiled and assessed her results, showing a positive correlation between being outside and a better mood and an even higher correlation between being outside and exercising with a better mood. She shares her findings with the director and they implement daily, guided outdoor exercise sessions.
So, what can we learn from Baylee? Well, first, she found inspiration in a community that she’s already connected with.
Consider starting with the communities that you already inhabit. In the outlined scenario, Baylee already had a relationship with the residents and director of the retirement home, which made it easier for her to get started. Consider integrating your research/ independent project into your existing extracurricular activities, volunteering spaces, friend groups, family, or community organizations. A lot of people will be happy to help!
As mentioned above, Baylee started with a question that she wanted to answer and built a project around it. Another tactic is to start with an issue that you want to solve. What if Baylee noticed that the retirement home’s residents were experiencing lower moods. She might come about this project as a way to find a solution!
Find a problem or issue that affects your community and look for a way to address it. Stay up-to-date with your local news. Talk to your family, friends, and neighbors. Great inventions and ideas are often inspired by the need for a solution. The first guy who built a bridge surely did it because he needed to cross a river.
Finally, look online for inspiration. Although you should definitely tailor your project to your specific interests and career goals, seeing what others have done could help get your creative juices flowing. There are numerous websites with helpful tips and examples like this one from UC San Diego for Data Science intended majors.
Informal Online Courses
Websites like Coursera.org and EdX.org offer a variety of free online courses from a wide range of institutions, from UC Berkeley to Harvard. You can sift through the paid courses by toggling the filter to “free.” Additionally, some of these courses offer certificates upon completion for a fee. Although there may be a time and a place for these certificates, students should not feel obligated to pay for them. By taking courses relevant to your major, you will demonstrate to colleges that you are truly interested in and dedicated to your chosen field.
Want more guidance? Contact Berkeley2 Academy’s team today to see how we can help you take your resume from great to outstanding!!