Summer Career Exploration for College Students: It’s Not too Late

5 Tips for Quick Summer Career Exploration

By: Reyna Gobel MBA, MJ

Career experience is vital for college students for resumes and career direction. I’ve heard stories of nursing students who were over a year into their degree before realizing they didn’t want to be nurses. Volunteering at a hospital and talking to working nurses could have speed up them choosing a different major.

If your college student is home for the summer, these activities that take as little as a few hours may help them solidify career choices or change majors faster.

Contact career counselors

Contacting services offices should always be a first step for college students, no matter what stage of their college career they are. They can help find internships, jobs, and mentors and shadow days. They can also help with identifying professional organizations and networking events.

Find a mentor or arrange a shadow day.

One of the best parts of my journalism grad school experience was I could call up and get an appointment with almost any editor I wanted to reach. They’d tell me out their job and what it would take to work for or write for them. One 2-hour appointment would have been impossible for a journalist with 10 years of experience to score. And who doesn’t have two available hours? Today, these appointments can be conducted by Zoom as well. Career services offices also has lists of alumni willing to mentor students.

Choose internships over part-time jobs when possible.

Today, most internships are paid. But even if they aren’t, choose shorter hours to be able to work another part-time job if necessary. Internships, generally, offer more opportunities for career exploration and potential employment after graduation.

Attend professional meetings and conferences.

All my best job opportunities came from networking with others. My books came from meeting a mentor at a conference. Earlier freelance came from joining a group called Freelance Success. I also got work and career guidance from health and general journalism. Ask your career services offices to guide you towards networking opportunities. A conference takes up a week of a summer. A networking event takes 2 hours.

Get business cards and hand them out.

You never know when you’ll score an opportunity. I always tell the the story of when I worked at Best Buy for a Christmas season. I was 19. I talked to everyone in long lines. The person in front of me ended up running a local music magazine. When we chatted about my favorite music, she offered me my first music writing gig.

Bottom Line

Moving forward in your career as a college student doesn’t have to mean a whole summer internship. A few hours of time or even printing business cards can change your trajectory. Contact career services as early as possible to get a summer game plan going.




  1. Thoroughly Review your Resume