Published: April 23, 2019

woman sitting at computerAh, summer! For some students that means three months away from the stress of preparing for exams, managing projects and writing papers. For others it means taking more classes, working an internship or getting a part-time job.

No matter what your student's plans are, they shouldn't let the summer slip by without gaining some insight or experiences that can benefit their unique career path. Here are 10 things your student can do to fill some downtime that can still enhance their employability.


Volunteering is an excellent way to use skills to help a worthwhile charity or a startup that cannot currently afford to hire new staff. That selfless attitude is not only viewed favorably by employers, but it is also an excellent point of discussion your student can use in a future job interview. They can look for volunteer opportunities with the Volunteer Resource Center

Set up informational interviews

Informational interviews can provide deeper insight into a particular field and start building a network of connections, which can bring more opportunities their way. This is an effective research tool that can help your student answer questions they might have about what it takes to work in certain industries and the proper steps to get into a career.

Job shadow

Shadowing an experienced professional can be a great way for your student to get a feel for different companies and industries, and to pick up some extra business experience and self-knowledge. If your student is uncertain of the career they want to pursue or if they have it all figured out, job shadowing will allow them to see exactly what a “dream job” may entail.

Learn a new skill

Encourage your student to look through job descriptions to see what types of skills are required for each position. If there is a software program they don’t know or want to learn more about, they could find an online course that can help them master it. CU Boulder students have access to which offers free courses in almost every subject. Whether they want to learn more about Microsoft Excel, Photoshop, Dreamweaver or Google Analytics, has a course for it.

Make a budget

Whether they take out student loans or earn an allowance, understanding expenses and setting a budget can help students better prepare for life after college. Help them set a spending limit each month so they can cover all expenses including food, rent, transportation, entertainment and school supplies. Summer is a great time to talk about financial situations with your student.

Get moving

It’s no secret that exercise is an essential part of living, but why would it benefit a student's career prep? Studies show that regular exercise can stimulate brain cell development, improve memory retention, increase focus and concentration, as well as relieve stress. It can also boost mental health if your student is prone to anxiety or depression.

Start a personal project

Developing something as simple as a blog or as big as their own startup company can add a competitive edge to any job search after college. Not only does it demonstrate self-motivation and discipline but also creativity and flexibility. And, who knows, it could turn into a successful career.

Study for grad school tests

If graduate or professional school is in your student's plan, encourage them to use downtime this summer to get a head start on studying for exams. Taking entrance exams early in the fall semester can give them plenty of time to submit applications or retake the exam before deadlines if they’re unhappy with their score. The Testing Services offers the GMAT, GRE and LSAT as early as September.  

Clean up social media

Employers often use social media to screen candidates for jobs and internships. Encourage your student to scan through all online profiles. They can review what pops up when they Google their name and take anything down that they think would hinder a job search.

Listen to podcasts

Podcasts are a great way to learn about personal and professional development from experts in every field, whether your student is interested in news, business, art, politics, sports or technology. Encourage them to replace their Spotify playlist with any of these recommended podcasts and have them listen while they exercise or have some free time.

  • How I Built This: NPR’s Guy Raz interviews some of the world’s best-known companies including Wayfair, Dell Computers, LinkedIn and more. "How I Built This" shares the narrative journeys from innovators, entrepreneurs and idealists and the movements they’ve built.
  • Tiny Leaps, Big Changes: These 15-30 minutes podcasts consist of self-help, wellness, motivation and inspiration about developing day-to-day habits to get most out of life.
  • TED Talks Daily: Listen to thought-provoking ideas on every subject imaginable from artificial intelligence to zoology and everything in between. This collection consists of TED and TEDx conference discussions from around the globe.
  • The College Info Geek Podcast: Study Tips & Advice for Students: Learn strategies and tactics to help build a personal brand that will make you insanely attractive to employers. They also give tips on how to study better, pay off student loans quickly and start making money.
  • College Life PodcastThis podcast is produced and made by one of CU Boulder’s own staff members: Alicia Sepulveda, an academic coach in the College of Arts and Sciences. There are a variety of episode topics related to everything about college life.
  • Stuff You Should Know: One of the most popular podcasts gives a unique dose of education and entertainment. You never know what Josh and Chuck are going to discuss. It could be anything from the story of Rosa Parks to how sushi is made.