The Life Design Summer Institute: Staying Engaged as a Fellow

Although you just got back to campus and are probably already overwhelmed and excited about everything to come in the fall semester, it is important to take time to consider what insights you have gained about yourself and your interests from your summer activities. Whether you engaged in the Summer Institute through the Life Design Lab, babysat in your hometown, completed a virtual or in-person internship, took on a self-paced project, or took time to rest, you probably found that components of your summer experience energized and engaged you while others drained or bored you. Paying attention to your energy and engagement is a critical exercise to inform your life design moving forward. Remember this exercise from the Institute? It’s always helpful to return to after you’ve prototyped something new. As a good rule of thumb, you want to try to include more of what you enjoy and less of what zaps your energy.

Your Summer “Good Times Journal” 

​Set aside approximately 15 minutes to reflect on your “good times” from your summer experience. Here’s a template that you can use if you’d like to print it out.

Step 1: Consider an overarching experience that you engaged in this summer. For example, I agreed to become an administrator for the local field hockey club that I have coached with for six years. I started officially on July 1 and have spent about 5 hours a week on it so far.

Step 2: List 6-8 activities that you completed as a part of this summer experience. The activities can be professional, academic, co-curricular, or simply for fun. My activities are a mix of “behind-the-scenes” administrative work, hands-on work with players and coaches, and fun.

Step 3: For each activity, determine how much it engaged you and how much it energized you. For me, I felt very differently about the activities.

Step 4: Crystalize your insights to design forward. What trends or patterns do you notice? When are you most engaged? When are you most energized? How might you leverage these insights as you start the new school year? How do these insights inform the three lives you imagined during the institute?

So, what’s the big takeaway from this activity? Returning to your Good Times Journal and adding to it over time ensures that you are continually designing and redesigning your life after instructive experiences with your energy and engagement at the forefront.

Interested in sharing your insights with others? Submit your reflections/photos to Life Design Educator, Jess Harlee, at so we can feature you on Integrative Learning and Life Design’s new Reimagine website. 

Want to chat with a Life Design Educator? Take a look at our Fall 2021 office hours and drop-in.

Stay tuned for our next institute graduate-exclusive post in October. Happy life designing!

What is the Life Design Summer Institute?

The Life Design Institute is an 8-session opportunity for you to intentionally explore three different life paths that you might pursue. Through leveraging the process of design thinking, developing core mindsets around reframing and radical collaboration, articulating your values and beliefs about the world and work, and connecting with alumni, staff, and other students, you are able to gain a better understanding of who you are and who you might become. You will also be prepared to continue designing your life at Hopkins and beyond.


By Rhea Menon
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