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Searching for Summer Plans

Andriana writes about searching for summer opportunities during college!

Andriana writes about searching for summer opportunities during college!

Hi everyone!

I have had absolutely enough of winter, and am looking ahead to summer! (I mean, it’s actually 60 here today, so a nice reprieve. But still!) This seemed like a great opportunity to start talking about summer plans. Specifically, how do college students spend their summers? How do you find things to do? What should you be doing? What am I doing?

With all of these questions in mind, let’s get started!

How do Carleton students spend their summers?

This is a super broad question, so it calls for a super broad answer! Really, there are all kinds of ways that college students spend their summers. Some find jobs or internships. Others travel. Some use it as an opportunity to hone a skill. Others learn a new one. There are all kinds of ways to productively pass the summer months! Ultimately, the way each person chooses to spend her summer is completely up to her.

Luckily, Carleton has lots of opportunities for students to find something they’re interested in. The school offers fellowships and grants for students who want to conduct a project of their own design. There are learning and travel opportunities through Off-Campus Studies (OCS) programs, as well as through other colleges and universities. For students hoping to find jobs and internships, the Career Center is an excellent resource.

How do you find things to do?

Personally, I have been using the Career Center’s association with Handshake to look for summer opportunities. That said, there are plenty of ways to find something outside of Carleton-specific resources. It might sound obvious, but Google is a great way to find what you’re looking for. That said, to get the results you want, you have to have some idea of what to search for in the first place.

So let’s take a step back.

How do you decide what you want?

The first step should be to figure out what kind of activity you want (or need) to do. Do you want a job? An internship? To volunteer? If you’re trying to decide, consider whether it’s important that you get some form of compensation. A good rule of thumb is that a job is probably paid and volunteering unpaid; an internship completely depends.

Once you decide, think about what you enjoy doing. Do you want to work on your writing skills? Are you interested in STEM and research? Do you want to work on policy or law? Consider whether you’re limited by location–can you work anywhere, or do you need to find something within a certain radius? When you’ve narrowed down your options, check out resources specifically designed to help people find employment opportunities (e.g. Glassdoor or Indeed). These will usually allow you to enter a specific field and location.

Last thing–wrack your brain to see if you know of any companies that might align with your interests. For example, if you’re interested in journalism, think about the media that you consume. I would bet that most of the sources offer some form of opportunity for college students. If you want something in fashion, search the websites for your favorite brands. They will likely have a page dedicated to employment opportunities (including internships and fellowships).

I realize that this might seem overwhelming, especially to those who have not yet engaged in a job search. Don’t be stressed! (Easier said than done, I know.) The questions I’ve listed are meant to help you feel less stressed and more confident. Truly, the hardest part is figuring out what you want to do. Once you have an idea, there should be lots of opportunities from which you can pick and choose!

What should you be doing?

Something. Anything. Just not nothing.

This is essentially a trick question, because you should be doing whatever works for you! To be clear, you shouldn’t sit at home and do nothing. But you don’t have to have some fancy experience lined up. Essentially, don’t feel pressured to do something that you don’t want to do. Similarly, don’t compare your experiences or plans to your peers’–it’s pointless, and will only serve to promote unhealthy competition instead of collaboration.

If you’re doing literally anything, then there’s a pretty good chance that it’s productive. Traveling with your family? Yup, productive. You’re gaining a new experience! Adopting a new hobby? Absolutely! You’re learning a new skill, whether it’s running, cooking, studying another language, picking up an instrument, or anything else. You get the gist!

Summer Pic
A picture from my (safe, socially-distanced) trip last summer!

What am I doing?

Ah, this last question. The short answer? I don’t know!

I’ve been spending a lot of time during Winter Term combing through internships, going through the search process that I described above. I have mainly been trying to find writing opportunities, and of the many that I have discovered, lots involve politics, journalism, and communications. These past few weeks, I have been working on various applications, which mostly require a resume and cover letter, as well as writing samples.

We’ll see what happens!

Bottom line…

I hope this helps you get an idea of what college summers look like! Generally, I enjoy them a lot more than high school summers, simply because I have more independence and enough experience to do things that I genuinely enjoy. Also, it doesn’t hurt that I no longer have those pesky high school summer assignments that take up so much time ; )

Good luck!


Andriana is a sophomore at Carleton, where she plans to major in English and double minor in Creative Writing and Cross-Cultural Studies. Although she will be spending this fall at home in Richmond, VA, Andriana is already excited to return to Carleton and escape the southern heat. When she isn’t busy avoiding Virginia’s never-ending summer, you can find Andriana binge-reading, playing music, or watching a favorite movie or show for the umpteenth time. Meet the other bloggers!