What should I do this summer?

alex beller ‏@bell_er: What should I do this summer? I have 1 semester of college left in fall


I was going to explain something very important to my two daughters. I walked over to them. I had important wisdom to share with them. It would change their lives. I held up my finger and was about to talk. “You have snot coming out of your nose,” the older one said. The younger one looked and started laughing. Then they were both laughing. So I went to the bathroom, blew my nose, washed my hands and I forgot what I wanted to say to them. So I came back here to answer your question.

Ok, let’s get one thing out of the way first. Don’t work in a cubicle. Don’t be an intern and have some douchebag tell you what he wants in his coffee because “you have to pay your dues”. Don’t work for Goldman Sachs for a summer. Don’t even work for a startup for the summer. Let’s brainstorm for a second and come up with ten fun things you can do for the summer.

A) Go to India and do yoga for the whole summer. You will get in excellent shape. You will meet a ton of beautiful women. You will experience an entirely new and unpleasant culture. You will get a dose of spirituality.

“but don’t I need money to do that?” Well, not as much money as you’ve been spending on your college education. The only real cost is getting there. Fly cheap. Once you get there it costs almost nothing. Enjoy that while the dollar still has some power over the rupee. Let me give you an example. A root canal costs about $2000 here. In India it would’ve cost me $2. I might not have a mouth afterwards but that’s the difference in prices.

B) Walk the Camino de Santiago in Spain. It’s a path for pilgrims. A pilgrammage to what? Who cares. Just walk it. Paulo Coehlo did it and made millions. You can do it to and see what happens.

C) Write a novel. It will probably be a bad novel. You’re only 21. But it will help you put in the 10,000 hours you need to be a good communicator. Never a bad idea when you are young. Don’t forget to publish your novel at the end.

D) START a business. I said, “don’t work for a startup”. That doesn’t mean you can’t be a startup. Go to every store and restaurant in your collegetown and offer to put them on Facebook and manage their Facebook fan page. Get a small fee from each one of them. That will pay your bills for the summer and now “CEO” is on your resume.

E) Learn to program. Here’s how you learn to program. Get a friend who is a programmer to do two things for you: set you up with a nice programming environment. And get you a piece of code (like the software for a game) that you can modify. Start modifying it. Start modifying it even more. Start changing it so drastically it’s now unrecognizable. Modifying code is the best way to learn how to program.

F) Make a viral video. Let’s say a viral video is a video with over one million views. Every day make a new video. Study all the videos that are viral. Learn to edit videos. Learn how word spreads. You may not meet your goal but you will have a lot of fun trying. Important to note: better to have fun than to serve douchebags coffee.

G) Volunteer in a hospital. That will be all the experience you need to never want to go back in a hospital again, either as a patient or a doctor. And if you do want to be a doctor after that then power to you. You will probably be a very good one. Which is a rarity.

H) Invest in yourself. Every day there are ways on the Internet you can take a course for free, learn new things, learn marketable skills, learn fun things. You can spend the summer unlearning the things you learned in college and starting to really learn how to learn – i.e. learn the things that will stick with you for life, the things that will be important for you. Or, again, fun for you.

I) Hmm, I’m trying to exercise my idea muscle. I’ve only come up with 8 things. When I had one year left in college I spent the summer programming a chess program. I had a lot of fun and made friends that i still have to this day. In fact, Chet is probably the only friend from college that I still keep in touch with. And thank god because he saved me millions of dollars. Being in the trenches with someone makes you friends for life. 20 year olds are the ones who dig the trenches. Figure out a trench and sit in there with a friend. Figure out the meaning of life with him or her. That’s what 20 year olds do also. I’m not saying make a chess program. But make something that nobody has ever made before. And do it with someone else. Or share the experience with someone else.

J) Ok, one more thing. And I admit the last thing was a little lame other than the incredible life advice that came with it. I could say “watch a movie every day” but that’s too easy. I could say “try LSD for the first time” but you might want to wait until after you graduate before doing that. “read a biography every day” I also feel is a little bit too easy. Hmmm, something interesting. I can’t figure it out. I give up. Maybe in the comments people can help. Maybe people can say what they did before their last year of college.