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Summer Plans for Undergrads

May 19, 2018

Summer break can offer college students a unique opportunity to work, travel, and explore different career paths before having to make any formal career decisions.
Students should take advantage of full summer vacations now because after graduation they become a thing of the past!  Here’s how to use this summer wisely:


Summer internships are a great way to try out a job in a career of interest. They’re excellent resume builders and often create a handy network of connections that can be accessed in the future. Unfortunately, not all internships are paid, and they can be very competitive. For those that are unpaid, colleges sometimes offer stipends or class credit for them but note that the student may pay a fee for the credits like any other class.  Some students accept part-time unpaid internships for experience and then line up just about any other job to earn some cash.  Others may decide to take a full-time internship, having worked during the school year to save enough money.


  • Don’t be deterred, there are paid internships out there. There are also scholarships for internships to help offset the potential cost of credits earned; check with the school’s career and financial aid departments, as well as online. Start looking for summer internships as early as possible — many have competitive application processes a
  • nd early deadlines, especially paid internships. But some open up near the start of summer break so it’s important to keep searching.
  • Don’t be restricted to local options only. If possible, students should consider moving somewhere else for a summer, especially if it’s a place with industry connections.
  • Apply, apply, apply! Demand for internships is high. Applying for many increases the chances of getting one.


Whether going back to an old job from high school or starting a new job entirely, working over the summer is a great way to add experience to the resume and money to the bank account. Many students look for a seasonal job.  Scooping ice cream, working as a lifeguard, or being a camp counselor are all jobs that are perfect for college students.


  • Starting a summer business: An entrepreneurial drive leads some to start a business. If landscaping and construction work are options, there are people that need the help every day. Graphic design knowledge can lead to web development for new businesses looking to contract talent. Starting a business is a great resume builder and provides valuable long-term experience.
  • Save money! It’s a great feeling to get a paycheck after putting in the work. Students who save some money over the summer not only have some spending money for school, they are also building a healthy financial habit early.

Summer classes

Summer classes are a good way to catch up on credits or get ahead while away from campus.  Online classes or classes at a nearby college may be available.  It’s important for students to clear these classes with their college to ensure the credits will be accepted. Summer classes are often very challenging because an entire semester’s work is crammed into a short period of time, so the work period is intense but relatively short.   Online classes may require more independent work since there will not be a regularly scheduled in-person classroom experience.


Study abroad

Some students participate in a short-term study abroad program. The length of these trips usually range between a week to six weeks, but some can stretch the entire summer. This is a great option for students who can’t study abroad for a whole semester or don’t want to be away from home that long. There are many different options, so consider what works best given the circumstances. Studying abroad during the summer:

  • can provide a great experience while keeping students on track for graduation
  • is cheaper than long-term study abroad programs
  • allows for exploration of new places
  • Offers access to classes that may not be readily available at the home campus


Volunteering is another great resume builder and a way to network with people who have similar interests. There’s a wide range of opportunities from volunteering to walk dogs at an animal shelter to reading with children at the local library. Most nonprofits are always looking for volunteers, so there are plenty of opportunities to join up. Students can look for volunteer positions that may align with professional goals, building a network that could lead to future employment opportunities.

Whatever a student chooses, having a productive summer is important preparation for the eventual permanent job search.  Striking a balance between fun, sun and work is important for every student, especially during the long summer break.