Center for Career Services
Summer Learning Experiences
A “How To” Guide on Finding and Obtaining a Summer Learning Experience
What is a Summer Learning Experience?
How do You Find a Summer Learning Experience?
Step One: Self-Assessment
Step Two: Career Exploration/Research
Step Three: Marketing Yourself
Step Four: Networking
Step Five: Determining Variables
Step Six: Starting the Search
How do You Successfully Obtain a Summer Learning Experience?
Colgate Internship Recruiting Program
Colgate Endowed Fellowships
Colgate University Summer Undergraduate Research Program - The University annually awards approximately 50 grants to Colgate students to pursue research during the summer.
Colgate on the
Cuyahoga - a unique initiative designed to bring 10-15
Colgate undergraduates to Cleveland each summer for challenging internships, civic
engagement, alumni connections, and social events to introduce them to the professional, civic, and
personal offerings in Northeast Ohio. Sponsored by the Colgate Club of Cleveland.
Read about Summer on the Cuyahoga from WCPN in Cleveland
Upstate Institute - The mission of the Institute is to create linkages between Colgate University and the regional community to engage students, faculty, staff and residents in research and a reciprocal transfer of knowledge that will enhance the economic, social and cultural capacity of the area and sustain the environment.
Liberal Arts Career Network (LACN) - instructions
Multiple Career Area Listings/Databases
and other links
Letters of Recommendation
What is a Summer Learning Experience?
A summer learning experience is any opportunity in which you enhance your education, explore possible career fields, strengthen or expand skills and knowledge in a particular area, or discover something new about yourself or your professional direction.
It also can . . .
The self-knowledge you will gain and the skills and strategies you will develop to find a summer learning experience are lifelong tools that will help you prepare for life after college. You’ll learn how to feel more grounded and confident as you make decisions. Should I go to graduate school? What kinds of life goals are important to me? What is the most successful way to find a job? Is it time to change my course, or should I keep on track?
As with your academic course work, every year you are advancing your education and skills through your summer learning experiences. Think of it as building upon your experiences each summer to obtain an internship between your junior or senior year, or to have the experiences needed for your first job out of college.
Examples of Summer Learning Experiences
Summer job Informational interviewing
Volunteer experience Job shadowing
Paid, unpaid, formal, or self-designed internship Unique academic program
Research assistantship or project Study abroad
Self-employment or entrepreneurial experience Participation in a cultural event
Travel and more . . .
How do you find a Summer Learning Experience?
STEP ONE: SELF-ASSESSMENT
It is very important to start your search by assessing your experience, interests, skills and abilities. Assessment will allow you to create a focus to your summer learning experience search. We suggest you complete the following five exercises:
1) Think about past experiences that you enjoyed and that had significant meaning for you. Why?
2) Then think about past experiences that you did not enjoy. Why?
3) Make a detailed list of your current set of interests, skills, and abilities.
4) Then make a second list of the interests, skills, and abilities you would like to improve or develop.
5) From these exercises, start formulating a vision of an “ideal” job or experience.
The following are web-based assessment tools that can help you start thinking about your career interests.
The Career Services library has several books that provide different perspectives on how to think of developing a career, exercises to help you identify your strengths, and different ways to assess what career might be a good fit for you. Here are two particularly popular books within the career planning industry:
What Color is Your Parachute? A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career Changers by Richard Nelson Bolles. Updated annually, this is the best-selling job-hunting book.
Do What You Are: Discover the Perfect Career for You Through the Secrets of Personality Type by Paul D. Tieger & Barbara Barron-Tieger (1995). This book uses the Myers-Briggs Personality type indicator as the basis for understanding key traits in your personality and how those traits can translate into a career (or careers) that may be a good match for you.
STEP TWO: CAREER EXPLORATION/RESEARCH
The next step is to link your vision of the “ideal” job to tangible career fields. Identify and learn more about career fields that interest you by:
1) Reading books on a specific career field
2) Surfing the Internet to explore websites that pertain to that career field
3) Discussing your ideas with others: an advisor, family member, or friend
4) Reviewing full-time job descriptions of people in that career
5) Identifying professional organizations in that career field
6) Experiencing a job shadow
7) Conducting informational interviews
8) Participating in programs sponsored by Career Services, such as “A Day in the Life”
As your search progresses, it may be helpful to draft descriptive answers to the following questions for each career field that you are considering:
1) What are specific jobs in the field?
2) What is a typical entry-level job?
3) What are the qualifications?
4) Are there specific training programs, college courses, or graduate training that
would be beneficial or required?
5) What is the short- and long-term outlook for the field?
6) What are the most important issues in this career field?
7) Where, geographically, are jobs in this field clustered?
‘Career Exploration’ Resources
The Career Services website offers many resources to help you explore different careers to help you narrow down the kind of summer experience you would like to target.
The following are available in the Career Services library for you to browse through:
Job Opportunities by Career Field (located in a set of black binders in the CCS Library) – These are not focused towards summer opportunities, but contain extremely useful and current information on the kinds of jobs available in many different career fields. A good place to start when you are trying to get a feel for several different fields you might be interested in and the job opportunities that are out there. A few of the bulletins list internship positions.
The two-volume Dictionary of Occupational Titles, published by the Department of Labor contains thousands of job titles. Page 1023 of Volume II lists Occupational Titles by Industry Designation.
The Enhanced Occupational Outlook Handbook allows you to identify major jobs of interest and then obtain information on these jobs, and on the many more-specialized related jobs.
Great Jobs for . . . Majors by Blythe Camenson, VGM Career Horizons (2000). This series of books is organized by major and divided into two sections. “Part I: The Job Search” walks you through the steps from self-assessment, résumé, researching careers, networking, interviewing, follow up, job offer considerations, and graduate school. “Part II: Career Paths” includes an introduction to career paths in the “specific” major and then lists several different paths that a “specific” major might consider.
STEP THREE: MARKETING YOURSELF
This is the time to prepare your personal marketing materials. It is vitally important to prepare your materials accurately and professionally. These materials are your “first impression” to an employer.
1) Develop a professional résumé - a one-page document that outlines your education, experience, strengths, and accomplishments.
2) Compose a cover letter - write a basic version to get started, and then tailor each cover letter towards the specific position for which you are applying.
3) Polish your interviewing skills - be ready to go when you get the first “invite to interview” phone call.
‘Marketing Yourself’ Resources
Attend “101 Workshops”
Meet with a Career Services Peer Advisor for an initial critique of your résumé and cover letters.
Make an individual appointment with a Career Services
Advisor to discuss your résumé, cover letters, and interviewing, and to
participate in a mock interview.
STEP FOUR: NETWORKING
Networking and informational interviewing are two of the top tools used in a job search:
1) Identify successful people in fields that interest you
2) Interview them about their careers and how they got there
3) Thank them for their time and follow up with them later to inform them of your progress
Who should be in your network? Colgate alumni/ae, faculty, staff and administration; hometown community members; family and family friends; fellow student’s parents; company contacts; your Career Services Advisor, and more. Create a record-keeping system of your contacts.
The Correspondence Guide and Interviewing Guide, both published by the Center for Career Services, provide detailed information on communicating with people through the networking process. You will learn how to write a letter of inquiry and how to conduct an informational interview.
The Colgate Connection provides students with access to alumni/ae for career information, guidance, and networking purposes. The Colgate Connection helps you build relationships with people with whom you share a great connection – Colgate University. Colgate alumni/ae can be one of the most valuable resources for exploring and succeeding in your internship, job, or graduate school search. Visit with a Career Services Advisor to help you develop your communication strategy and to obtain a list of Colgate Connection contacts.
STEP FIVE: DETERMINING VARIABLES
There are a number of factors that you may need to address in your search, including the following:
1) You may be faced with a geographical location limit or opportunity, meaning that you may have to limit your search to your hometown or that you have relatives across the country with whom you could spend the summer. Whatever the scenario, identify where you can search and the best search methods for that area.
2) Another common dilemma is the paid or unpaid experience. If faced with a choice, you should always choose the experience about which you are most passionate. Yet possibly you can creatively combine the two, such as working a part-time job while having your unpaid summer learning experience or taking an unpaid four-week experience and spending the rest of the summer earning money.
3) Company/Industry Timelines for Hiring – timelines may vary by company or industry. Be aware of when it is best for you to start looking, the fall semester or spring semester.
4) Internship for Credit – if the company or organization requires you to receive credit for an internship experience, visit with a Career Services Advisor.
STEP SIX: STARTING THE SEARCH
Yes, you now are ready to start your search. We advise you to not start any job search without first following the above steps; the preliminary work that you do will facilitate your search immensely. You now are prepared to:
1) Learn and practice the most effective ways to locate good job opportunities
2) Learn and practice how to apply for and follow through on opportunities
3) Be creative: the perfect summer experience may be found where you least expect it
Each industry, field, and employer has its own unique culture that shapes the “hiring” process. Some organizations publicize their summer programs through on-line databases, others just on their own websites, and still others do not post at all but will consider direct requests from students or references from employees or networking contacts. So, as you are researching summer learning experiences, keep in mind that some experiences may be published and others unpublished. Although more challenging to obtain, the unpublished learning experience may be more exciting and entrepreneurial.
TIP: Be sure to keep detailed records of your applications, noting important dates, timelines, addresses, contacts, phone numbers, interviews, offers, rejections, and acceptances.
‘Starting the Search’ Resources
Students who wish to apply for positions posted through the Internship Recruiting Program must first attend a Recruiting Information Session and then submit an approved résumé with a completed Acknowledgement Form to Career Services.
Study Abroad students are encouraged to visit this site frequently, and if you are interested in a position you should apply to the company or organization directly. Explain in your cover letter you are a Colgate student on study abroad.
Additional resources to utilize in locating summer learning experiences include:
a) Networking and informational interviews – with alumni/ae, faculty, staff, and administration as well as family and friends that may work for organizations of interest to you
b) Advertisements and job postings
c) Company/organization websites
d) City websites
e) Telephone directories
g) Chambers of Commerce
h) Contact a United Way or other charity organization to see if they have a directory of non-for-profit organizations
i) Make direct contact to a company/organization that may interest you, even if they do not have a formal internship advertised
j) Trade associations and professional organizations for a specific career field
k) Industry and general directories
l) On-line resources – Hoovers Online, LexisNexis, Researching Companies Online, etc.
How do you successfully obtain a Summer Learning Experience?
Each student’s process for obtaining a summer learning experience will be unique. Your success will depend not only on the above steps but also on these additional suggestions:
Success can show its face in many ways; you may get that ideal internship position or you may have a summer filled with informational interviews and job shadows. Make the most of every experience in which you are involved!
Regularly visit with a Career Services Advisor to discuss your challenges and successes in the search process!
PLUS… Pay attention to:
Center for Career Services Library Resources:
On the first floor of Career Services you will find binders and books with summer experience and internship information. We offer a specific resource guide for minority students. Also explore the reference area for your field of interest.
Bulletin Boards with summer experience and internship postings are located in the computer lab. Academic departments and The COVE also have bulletin boards with summer experience postings.
What’s Going On... is a weekly Career Services e-mail that lists workshops, programs, discussion hours, information sessions, and employer presentations.
“Doing Well By Doing Good” Luncheon Series is co-sponsored by the COVE and provides a forum for discussion on non-profit, service based organizations and career fields. Alumni/ae, parents, and friends share their experiences with students.
“Food for Thought” Career Exploration Luncheon Series exposes students to a diverse array of career fields. As professionals in these fields, alumni/ae, parents, and friends offer advice and speak informally about their careers.
Also, look at ...
Colgate on the Cuyahoga - The Colgate Alumni/ae Club of Cleveland in conjunction with four other university alumni clubs is sponsoring the Summer on the Cuyahoga. Summer on the Cuyahoga is a unique summer internship program open to students of Case Western, Colgate, Princeton, Smith, and Yale. The program brings together 75 to 90 students for an intensive summer immersion program designed to help interns explore the professional, civic, and social offerings of the Cleveland area. The program offers challenging internships, alumni connections, and involvement in civic and social programs. Approximately 75 employers will offer internship experiences in industries such as the environment, teaching, scientific research, technology, business, banking, and more.
Colgate Endowed Fellowships:
Manzi Fellowship - Established in 1995 by Jim Manzi '73, the Manzi Fellowship provides financial assistance to twelve students (12) enrolled at Colgate University who agree to perform summer-long community service in designated areas of Cambridge, Boston and Greater Boston, in association with a Colgate-recognized and sanctioned project or organization/agency. In return, the University provides a summer living stipend of $4,200. Qualified fellows are Colgate students (first-year through junior year) who demonstrate a strong interest in community service.
Arthur Watson Jr. '76 Endowed Fund for Career Planning - The Arthur Watson, Jr. '76 Endowed Fund for Career Planning is available to provide financial assistance to Colgate students who are purposefully searching for an appropriate career direction. Grants are awarded to students based on competitive merit of written applications that describe how the support will enable the student to prepare for or learn about a career and/or advanced study.
Aaron Jacobs '96 Endowed Fund - Established in 2004 by Laurence and Alice Jacobs, this is a permanent endowment fund created in honor of their son, Aaron Jacobs '96. This fellowship will be awarded to provide stipend support for one or more Colgate students who wish to intern in the financial or business fields. Preference will be given to students who would not otherwise be able to complete an internship due to financial constraints.
Dr. Merrill Miller Endowed Fellowship - Established in 2005 by Dr. Merrill Miller, this is a permanent endowment fund created to support Colgate students who wish to intern in the health or other science related fields. Preference will be given to students who would not otherwise be able to complete an internship due to financial constraints.
John A. Golden '66 Endowed Fellowships - The John A. Golden ’66 Endowed Fellowship provides highly qualified students interested in pursuing a graduate law degree and career in law with summer internship funding. Two or more Golden Fellows will be selected each year based on academic and extra curricular achievement. Fellows will receive funding to pursue a summer internship in the field of law for the summer following their junior year.
Milhomme International Internships - The Milhomme International Internships are designed for Colgate students who wish to enhance their cultural competency and gain career experience by means of an internship. Recognizing the financial obstacles to accepting overseas internships the Milhomme International Internships will make four awards of up to $5,000 to support students’ living and internship-related expenses. (If the initial awards do not require the full $5,000, additional awards will be made.) Selection will be competitive.
David M. Jacobstein '68 and Cara Jacobstein Zimmerman '97 Endowed Fellowship - The David M. Jacobstein ’68 and Cara Jacobstein Zimmerman ’97 Endowed Fellowship was established in 2007 to provide stipend support for internships for one or more Colgate students. Preference is given to students who wish to undertake a public interest internship in fields such as law or politics. Preference will be given to students who qualify for need-based financial aid from Colgate University.