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The perks of spending summer in your college town

May 27, 2011

Ashley Peek and the Grazie staff

Ashley Peek, bottom right, poses with other members of the summer staff at Grazie, a fine dining establishment in Bloomington, Ind.

Ashley Peek is a sports communication major at Indiana University and former intern for the Indiana Pacers.

By Ashley Peek

There are towns all across America that are defined by one thing. But that one thing is a variety of things all melted into one.

What may this one thing be, you are pondering? Well … they’re college towns, of course.

“The summer is a great time to get in with the locals.”

From Tempe, Ariz. to Madison, Wisc.; from Lawrence, Kans. to Chapel Hill, N.C. These are towns known generally for their greater production during the school year, but don’t be fooled: People live here all year round.

And that is an adventure I am taking this summer in Bloomington, Ind.: A town full of quarries, fine dining and national sporting events.

So I’m here to help you learn how to make the most of a summer in your college town, if you choose to take that dusty trail.

Maybe you have to stay to take summer classes, because it’s a lot more fun than doing it at the community college near home. Or maybe you just enjoy not living with your parents. (You were all thinking it.) Whatever you reason may be, don’t waste your days on Netflix or doing the same things you do during the school year — take the time to explore.

For instance, Bloomington has several recreational areas I’ve never found time to visit during the school year. Lake Monroe is a just a few miles from here, perfect for a nice beach day on the hot summer sand. Or, I could go to the campus golf course to play a few holes.  There are always a few uncharted paths you can take to create your own adventures.

Lake Monroe, Indiana

Lake Monroe, Indiana

But don’t just spend all your energy in the sun. The summer is a great time to get in with the locals. Start working at a retail store, or a restaurant. You’ll soon realize most of these small business owners know each other, and talk regularly. Not only can you help yourself out by getting paid, but you can build a network within your current city.

This past semester, I started working at a high-end restaurant here in town, and during my interview, I started talking about marketing. Lo and behold, I found out the owner was looking for a marketing intern. I nearly spilled a glass of water in my excitement to help. And just like that, I landed myself a summer job and internship.

Although I’m not majoring in marketing, and the restaurant world isn’t my top career objective by any means, it is still a way to build a network and make connections.

However, I still have the mentality of a college student and realize summer vacations probably will be over after I complete my last year of college next spring.

That being said, I never let a night on the town go to waste. There are plenty of music venues, pubs and bars I never went to during the school year. Since the summer has started, I’ve already had my check-ins on Foursquare grow.

So remember, you can still have a successful summer staying in your beloved college town. Just know that it’s all what you make of it.

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