Last Minute Summer Career Exploration Activities

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Summer is a great time for short career exploration activities that can boost your career knowledge and help you choose your major. During my first summer break from art school, I couldn’t find any resources for career development.


So I contacted companies and professionals directly in the art career field. They were happy to mentor my friends and I on everything from the business side to building the exhibitions themselves. We built our own career network. 


Your student can use the following resources to learn about careers and connect with mentors who can help them.


Local lectures 


Your student should look for lectures from local colleges in fields that interest them. Community centers may also offer learning opportunities.


I found a lot of opportunities by attending lectures at bookshops and galleries. Since bookshops offer talks from authors on a wide variety of topics, it’s a quick way to get exposure to a lot of career possibilities.


Plus, your student can network in the crowd.


Community College Courses


It’s not too late to sign up for a short community college course for July or August. Your student can take a course in as little as 4 weeks in a subject that is a possible career path. Plus, it’s cheap tuition and can replace a course in college. 


A few sample courses for career exploration: photojournalism, creative writing, marketing, economics, or even basic law.


Your student should meet with a career or academic counselor on your local community college campus to get help picking the best course.


No time for courses this summer? The meeting itself can put students on a better career path, and they can take a course during winter break. 


Shadow days


In my junior year of high school, I took an entrepreneurship course. Through the course, I applied for a shadow day with a city council member. I followed her life for a day and learned about leadership. It helped me build a small organization, plan exhibitions, and navigate the city for other opportunities. You never know where shadow days can lede.


Your student should contact local organizations in fields they are interested in or companies they’d like to work for and discuss opportunities for shadow days. 


If you live in an area that doesn’t have a variety of industries, shadow days can also be done by Skype.




I went to a workshop through my art school on the future of visual storytelling in journalism by Fred Ritchin. He was a former picture editor of The New York Times Magazine and the Dean of the International Center of Photography (ICP), where I ended up finishing my studies. 


Because of that workshop, he wrote my letter of recommendation for ICP. I received a full scholarship for my studies from Reuters.


A two-day workshop changed my life. Your student should look for opportunities for them wherever possible. Libraries, local museums, and colleges will often post workshop schedules.


Your own network


Take your student to your networking events. Also, search your own LinkedIn first-degree connections with keywords that apply to your student’s interests.


For instance, you could search by name of a company they want to work for or by a career keyword such as management, marketing, journalism, or accounting. Then, send a quick note about scheduling a full shadow day or just having lunch with your student.


5 Takeaways

  • Encourage your student to go to workshops whenever possible. They’re fun and give hands on experience that can spark career interest.
  • Go to author talks at bookshops with your student. It’s a simple and generally free way to get exposure to new career paths and interests.
  • A short community college course can cut the cost of college and expose students to a new field of interest. The bonus is gaining college study skills in advance.
  • Your student should reach out to individuals they admire for shadow days. It’s amazing how reachable successful professionals in all fields are to students.
  • LinkedIn is a great starting point for finding people who can help your student. Search among your first-degree connections by keyword for careers or companies.

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