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How to Find Summer Programs as a College Student

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This post is from a student, parent, or professional contributor. The opinions expressed by the author are their own and do not necessarily reflect the positions, viewpoints, or policies of Niche.

While the school year has started for many, the thought of summer always lingers. Many take the summer to rest, take classes, participate in an internship, or even go abroad.

But how do students take advantage, and where do you start to look for these programs? Luckily, your university should have some places to start, with some added tips from me.

Where to find these opportunities:

Public Service Center

A university public center can mean many different things, but they overall promote social justice and civic engagement through the programs they host. I was able to intern in Washington, D.C., this past summer through the UC Berkeley Public Service Center.

Usually, these programs are made to garner first-hand experience in the industry students want to pursue. Sometimes these programs ask for volunteer or community service in conjunction with the internship, but it only adds to the experience!

Department Newsletters

Let’s face it: we all get inundated with emails daily. However, it doesn’t hurt to look at the emails you get from your major advisors.

From scholarships to research opportunities, sometimes your department will promote some opportunities you might not have known about prior. The best part about this is that many of these opportunities are tailored towards what you could do postgrad with your major. And if you haven’t signed up for any newsletter: this is your sign!

Tips for Applying to Summer Programs

How to take advantage

Cast a wide net

This goes without saying, but many of these programs are super competitive. If the program promises the chance to relocate for the summer, the more lucrative it is.

This is where having a “master” resume and cover letter comes in handy, as these programs require one or both. Sometimes they will require interviews, so definitely brush up on those answers.

Additionally, sometimes there will be ‘hidden’ less-competitive programs that you can apply to, so it’s crucial to be tapped into those newsletters. 

Once in the program: network!

As I’m entering my last year of undergrad, the thought of life after college is scary. At my internship, I did a lot of coffee chats within the company and out, and it has helped me figure out my post-grad plans.

Many students don’t realize that most junior staff (and sometimes senior staff!) are more than happy to help you and discuss professional career goals. These connections can provide you with advice and contacts, which can help you make informed career decisions.

Make sure your finances are in check

If you travel for your summer program, remember the cost of living. Rent in one state may not translate to a different state or overseas.

Make a budget spreadsheet to keep track of expenses and your income while you’re away. If need be, apply to scholarships to subsidize the costs or see if your programs provide moving stipends. One of the most significant barriers to participating in these programs is finances, so always look for different funding streams. 

Have fun!

While you are at your summer program to study or work, take advantage of what it offers! My DC internship program exposed me to new museums, restaurants, and friends.

My office took us to a baseball game where we all got to eat together and hang out outside of work. I was able to meet a gubernatorial candidate because of the connections my boss had, and I was able to explore a whole new city. Working hard is essential, but making sure you have fun is equally important. 

There are so many options to choose from when making the most of your summer, so hopefully these tips will help you start your search this academic year. 

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Author: Mayra Herrera

Mayra is a senior transfer student at UC Berkeley, studying Political Science and Chicano Studies from Santa Ana, CA. She hopes to one day work in higher education, supporting and uplifting other students of color. When she isn't writing for Niche, you can catch her jamming out to Harry Styles, finding a new coffee shop to study in, or taking a nap in one of the many campus libraries.