A Summer Searcher’s Guide to Maximize College & Career

Fall is a season of change, and a time of firsts. Students are taking their first steps away from home onto college campuses, and young professionals are deciding how to begin their careers.

Two Summer Search alumnae – Lorraine and Marie – have generously shared their advice on tackling these exciting and challenging transitions: how to make the most of the post-secondary experience and how to best prepare to start a new job or career path.

Lorraine and Marie

Lorraine Cawili (left) is a Philanthropy Associate at Mission Asset Fund and a member of the Bay Area Alumni Board.

Marie Angeles (right) is the Assistant Director of Admissions & Student Inclusion at the University of Washington, Evans School of Public Policy and Governance, and a member of the Seattle Alumni Board.

Check out these tips and tricks to keep you focused on your journeys toward your long-term goals so that you, and every young person, can thrive!

COLLEGE 101

Lorraine-Grad-HatLorraine representing Summer Search (and our old logo!) on her graduation day from the University of Redlands in 2016.

Self-care is important. Don’t forget to drink lots of water, eat well, work out, and sleep as much as you can. Your body will take care of you if you take care of it.

Sign up for classes that you normally wouldn’t take. This is definitely one of the things I wish I could have done more when I was in college. You will definitely prioritize taking required classes for your major(s), which is normal, but don’t forget that there will be classes available for you to take that will expand your interests.

Study abroad (if you can). I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to study abroad in Spain during my junior year. It was an incredible experience to improve my Spanish speaking skills, immerse myself in a different culture through food and traveling, and take classes in a different country with many international students. If you’re interested, start looking into it and discussing it with your family because it can get expensive.

Join extracurricular activities. You will find yourself meeting your life-long friends and/or mentors (your niche as they call it), and begin to discover your interests in addition to your studies. Just keep in mind that it may usually take up your time outside of classes, so remember to prioritize!

Don’t stop seeking mentorship. And don’t be surprised if the mentors you find are people you didn’t expect.

CAREER TIPS & TRICKS

Seattle Alumni Network EventMembers of the Seattle Alumni Board and other Summer Search alumni and supporters at an event in Seattle.

Do your research. It will take some time for you to find the right fit after college, because you may not even be sure what you want to do after (which is totally okay!). Use Glassdoor, LinkedIn, Indeed, and of course, your network to help you find the right fit and/or just to talk through any concerns you might have.

Your network is your net worth. After finishing college, you may find yourself feeling a little lost since it’s a whole new world out there. I found it most valuable to use my connections — either from past summer internships, supervisors from work study, managers from old jobs, and of course, Summer Search — to start looking for a job. These are individuals that have supported you and your growth and can be great sounding boards and resources.

Be patient. Don’t force yourself to fit into an opportunity that may have raised flags for you during your research or interviews. There is no deadline for you to find the right job. However, if you are someone who really needs to find work due to financial or other reasons, then don’t be afraid to take on a job that may not be the perfect job for you, right now. Use the opportunity as a launching board to find something even greater.

Ask for help. This phase can feel incredibly daunting. You may feel uncertain about what’s next or your ability to do a job. Ask for help when these feelings come up. One great place to start is with your Summer Search community!

BONUS: ONCE A SUMMER SEARCHER, ALWAYS A SUMMER SEARCHER

Summer Trips - ThrowbackSummer Throwback! Marie on a summer program with Longacre Farms in 2008 (left), and Lorraine with Deer Hill Expeditions in 2010 (right).

It’s never too late to connect with Summer Search. You may have not talked to your mentors, visited the office, or attended an event in months, or even years. But when you come back there will always be a happy face to greet you.

So, when you are ready to connect again, reach out! Have lunch with your mentors. Ask about the Alumni Board, if there are ways to meet them and learn about community events. Our community exists far beyond our five locations. For example (see photo below), you can have three Summer Searchers living in Seattle, Ann Arbor, and Boston find each other at a conference in Chicago!

Summer Search Alumni together at NorthwesternFrom left to right: Summer Search alumnae Judith Garcia, Bao-Tram Do, and Marie Angeles.

The Summer Search family will always be there for you. College success mentors and other staff are there to support and guide you during your journey, especially during your first year (out of high school). Don’t be afraid to reach out to them anytime.

The Summer Search Alumni community is also here for you. Most Summer Search alumni have been in positions where you’ve been, so use them (us!) as a resource.


What advice would you give to a first-year college student or a recent grad starting their career? Leave a comment below!

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