The Summer Between Undergrad and Grad School: Now What?


The beginnings of Phuong's plant parenting!

First and foremost, a big congratulations to all of our 2021 graduates! Seriously, what a year. We are so proud of you for pulling through. This is especially true for those of you who are moving onto grad school and managed to not only complete grad school applications, but also interviewed and participated in recruitment during the pandemic! You are about to embark on your next big adventure, and we are excited for you!


Between finishing your undergrad chapter and starting your new one at grad school, you might be wondering what to do this summer. After all, this summer is special. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! We’ve both been there before, so here are a couple of practical (but mostly fun) suggestions:


Things you can do:

  • Reach out to your cohort

  • Phuong actually set up our first cohort hang out before classes began! We got udon followed by ice cream. Ayumi and Phuong hit it off right away and it was great to have those connections as the year progressed.

MolE 2019 Cohort's first day of school!
  • House (or apartment) hunt

  • Finding housing can be so difficult! Do your research and don't put it off.

  • Reach out to future labmates

  • Try to set up meetings (zoom or otherwise) with current grad students and/or postdocs.

  • Downsize--use the Marie Kondo method

  • Especially if you're moving particularly far, it is useful to clear away things that no longer spark joy.

  • Get a relaxed summer job you always wanted to try

  • whether its working at an ice cream shop or as camp counselor, what is stopping you from trying something new and unrelated to grad school?

  • Spend as much time with family and friends as you can.

  • It is literally your last summer break for YEARS, so enjoy it to the fullest!

  • Until two weeks ago, Ayumi hadn't seen her family since 2019, the year she started her program! You never know what could keep you away, whether it is a pandemic, a tragic event, or just being too busy for home visits.

Phuong visited her family in Vietnam!
  • Start a rotation early (or at least reach out to potential rotation labs--shamelessly plug our article on this!)

  • Be a tourist: we know this may be difficult to do during the pandemic, so please follow public health guidance!

  • In your current location. Pretend you are just visiting your current city for the first time. What would you do?

  • In the location of your grad program. Get to know this place you'll be calling home for the next few years!

  • Take an online free online course

  • Coursera and OpenCourseWare are great options.

  • Organize your wardrobe and donate clothes

  • It is a good time to reinvent yourself and your style!

  • Look for a doctor and/or therapist in your future location

  • Make sure that your physical and mental health are a priority. If your grad student health insurance includes a dental plan, look into that as well!

  • Become a plant or pet parent!

  • Many apartments don’t allow furry pets, so you can try your hand at achieving the green thumb you’ve always wanted. Otherwise, if you’re fortunate enough to find somewhere pet-friendly and are in the market for a furry companion, now’s your chance!

Ayumi being a tourist in Seattle
  • Update your resume.

  • You’ve graduated and completed one major accomplishment--this should be proudly displayed on your resume! It is good practice to send your resume when contacting PIs for potential rotations, so why not take this opportunity to update it with all your projects over your time in undergrad?

  • That ever-growing list of shows that you had always meant to watch but never had the time (because college)? Now’s your time!

Trust us, this summer will go by FAST, and so make the most out of it! Grad school is a marathon, so making sure that you get appropriate rest and relaxation between undergrad and grad school is definitely important to performing at your best!