For most Southern Miss students, the feeling of freedom after enduring finals week and packing one’s things up to head home for the summer is a great one. Summer break is a time outside of the classroom meant to be spent away from late nights at the library.
Local events are held every summer in big cities like Atlanta, but Hattiesburg also has a taste of fun to offer. Some of the events include Matthew Logan Vasquez of Delta Spirit performing at the Thirsty Hippo in Hattiesburg May 14. On July 19, Ardenland will present American musician and artist Dylan LeBlanc at the Thirsty Hippo.
Hattiesburg will celebrate FestivalSouth presented by the Hattiesburg Concert Association May 30 to June 18, marking the seventh annual city-wide celebration. FestivalSouth is a multi-week, multi-genre festival for local residents, and cultural tourists are invited to participate in events involving music, dance, art, theatre, film, food and more.
For running fanatics, among numerous local 5ks, The Festival 5K will be June 4 at Kamper Park at the Hattiesburg Zoo.
For beer enthusiasts and connoisseurs, The Historic Hattiesburg Downtown Association will host its Fourth Annual Hattiesburg Craft Beer Festival June 11 at the Hattiesburg Historic Train Depot. The event will feature various craft beer brewers and enthusiasts.
Others, however, plan to remain in the barely bustling college town of Hattiesburg this summer and will be doing more than just lounging by the pool as they want to get a head start on their college and post-college careers.
Lynne Sarikas, director of Northeastern University’s MBA Career Center said soon-to-be sophomores seriously thinking about their careers should use the summer as a time of networking.
“Talk to people who work in fields that interest you or companies that interest you,” she said. “Start with the ‘low hanging fruit’ — parents of your friends [or] people your parents know.”
As summertime approaches, several students begin the hunt for a summer job in hopes of gaining money and experience.
“Having a summer job also shows future employers that you are motivated and focused,” Sarikas said. “Doing most anything is better than doing nothing. Retail or fast food experience at least exposes you to customer service skills and time management.”
There are numerous job opportunities for students in Hattiesburg, accounting for more than 1,000 job openings in the city.
Sophomore social work major Brendid Williams will remain in Hattiesburg to gain professional experience.
“I’ll be staying here to work at Regions bank, but I’ll also be relaxing and not thinking about school too much,” he said.
Soon-to-be juniors are advised to look into internships in their field of study or continue working to gain professional experience and skills to benefit their future careers.
Students can take advantage of the resources Hattiesburg has to offer, from volunteering, attending educational events, shadowing and getting involved.
Junior music major Daron Roberts will also stay in Hattiesburg and gain further experience in his field of study.
“I plan to keep playing for my church and perform at other gigs, so at least I won’t have to take tests every other week like during the semester,” he said.
Apart from building a résumé, some students plan to spend their summers preparing for major examinations like the MCAT or GRE for entrance into professional schools.
The convenient location of Hattiesburg offers travel to tourist locations like Biloxi and New Orleans, both less than a two hour drive. The coast area and Cajun tradition city have plenty of activities for visitors, whether they want to fish in the gulf or want to try a French Quarter restaurant. For casino lovers, The Beau Rivage Resort and Casino and Hurricane Katrina Memorial are in Biloxi and Island View Casino Resort in Gulfport. The Hollywood Casino is a popular place in Bay St. Louis. Mississippi is filled with Tupelo, Columbus, Oxford, Natchez, Ocean Springs, Bay Saint Louis and Jackson.
For those interested in road trips and traveling to beaches, Pensacola, Florida requires just a three and a half hour drive.
Regardless of what students decide to do this summer, the common goal is to enjoy it to its fullest and use it to prepare for what’s next: fall semester, which the full term starts Aug. 24.