Five Career Planning Activities for Summer Vacation

In a few weeks, students and teachers will be singing, “School’s out for summer!” and parents will be thinking, “How can I keep my child busy this summer doing something productive?” How about helping your child find career planning activities for summer vacation! By participating in specific activities during the summer, a student can gain valuable perspective that allows him/her to prepare for the future. Here are five career planning activities for summer vacation that will both entertain and educate your student!

1. Attend a camp at a university

Attending a university summer camp is one of my favorite career planning activities for summer vacation because students are not only exposed to careers paths but academics as well! Summer camps and programs at universities vary in length; however, most are one week-long and focus on specific career fields or areas of interest. For example, Wichita State University in Wichita, KS, hosts a variety of week-long engineering camps for students entering 4th through 12th grades. Similarly, the University of Alabama has various programs, including week-long camps in Forensic Science for high school and middle school students. Likewise, the University of California Los Angeles offers summer camps for students interested in digital filmmaking or game design, as well as many other career areas and interests! 

University summer camps are often very hands-on and engaging for participants. These experiences also look great on scholarship and college admissions applications. Are you sold on summer camps as career planning activities for summer vacation? A quick search online will allow you and your student to quickly identify camps in your area or nation-wide camps related to his/her interests.


2. Participate in a volunteer experience

If your child already has a tentative plan for a future career field, why not encourage some volunteer experience this summer? Volunteering one or two afternoons per week can give your child a first-hand perspective about a career field. For example, if your student is interested in a career in the medical field, almost every hospital offers volunteer positions. Do you have a child that loves hands-on activities and building things? How about volunteering with the local Habitat for Humanity team? Not only are volunteer experiences great career planning activities for summer vacation, but they also look great on scholarship and college admission applications as well as a future resume!


3. Tour a company while on a family vacation

Companies across the country and world open their doors to visitors allowing you to see the behind-the-scenes operations and all of the different people and careers it takes to make the production happen! Your children won’t even realize they are being exposed to fantastic career-related information, and it will be fun for the entire family. When given the opportunity to ask additional questions on the tour, encourage the guide to talk about the different departments of the company. It will be fun to see how many people it takes to get your favorite products from the initial idea, through production, and into your home.


If possible, choose a tour that speaks to the interests of your child. For example, say you are planning a family vacation to Colorado this summer and your child is very interested in sports. Consider scheduling a tour of Coors Field! Likely, your child hasn’t thought of all of the different careers and roles that it takes for one game or event to be a success. Learning about the hospitality division or even the analytic and statistic department will be fascinating for everyone!

4. Take a summer class at the local community college

Did the idea of career planning activities for summer vacation that also looks great on college applications appeal to you? If so, talk to your child about taking a summer class at the local community college! Community colleges offer excellent introductory-level courses at a very affordable rate. As a community college instructor myself, I see first-hand the value young students get from taking courses while in high school. I encourage students to enroll in my Introduction to Business course if they are considering a career in business as we explore economics, management, marketing, and finance in the class. Having this knowledge and perspective can help a student make a more informed decision when it comes time to declare a career path and academic major.


5. Complete a job shadow

Job shadows are a tried and true career exploration activity, and summer is an excellent time for students to complete one! The key is to find a person who is passionate about their career and, ideally, is accustomed to interacting with adolescents. This helps ensure a positive experience for both the professional and your students. 

Job shadows do not have to be lengthy to be effective career planning activities for summer vacation. A few hours one morning or afternoon will provide a lot of insight and allow your child to ask questions and observe. If the experience goes well, perhaps it could turn into a volunteer or internship opportunity and a chance to gain an on-going experience and perspective!


For more information and ideas to assist your child with career planning or book a consultation, visit


I have been working with students for ten years and the last seven of those years have been spent at the college level working closely with students in career-related capacities. This includes assisting students with career planning, academic success, and work-based learning experiences such as internships and apprenticeships. I am passionate about impacting the next generation of our workforce and ending the epidemic of underemployed and in debt college graduates.

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