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A productive way for high school students to spend their summer


As summer approaches, high school students (and their parents) are trying to find the best and most productive way to spend their time away from school. Many students are asking, “What can I do this summer that will be impressive to include in my college application?”  or  “How can I gain hands-on experience?”

Instead of applying for that job at Burger King, how about creating an experience that will supercharge your college application. Job shadowing is what I am referencing.

If you aspire to be a dentist, then shadow one. A pediatrician? Job shadowing will be a perfect way to get hands-on experience in a clinical setting. Many students, and their parents, wrongly believe that job shadowing is hard to come by. That’s because most students approach it the wrong way. The best opportunities will not be found on Monster or Indeed. They are created.

Contact your family dentist. Explain to her that you are an aspiring dentist. Then explain the value you intend to add to her practice. Remember, job shadowing must be mutually beneficial.

Start with the people you know, people your parents know, and family friends. You’d be surprised how resourceful your inner circle is and just how far a referral goes.

Not only will job shadowing create a worthwhile summer, but it also looks amazing on those college applications. It shows the college that you are not just SAYING you want to be an architect – or doctor or whatever – you are SHOWING them you took the initiative to explore this passion.

When approaching job-shadowing opportunities, utilize LinkedIn to highlight your leadership skills. Think of LinkedIn as an online portfolio. Instead of emailing a boring resume, send your LinkedIn profile.

A LinkedIn page is more personal than a resume. Think of it as making your one-page resume come to life and highlighting who you are as an individual. Do you play the violin? Why not post a video of one of your performances? Are you a soccer player? Post a video of your winning goal. Take your time and make your LinkedIn page personal, and highlight your goals, accomplishments, and why a university would be happy to have you as one of their students.

Creating a LinkedIn page is a task that needs to be nurtured: a constant work-in-progress. It is a great use of time for students to build up their profile while on summer break. Make connections, get endorsements, and ask for recommendations. This way, when you approach job-shadowing or internship opportunities, the employer can learn more about you and your leadership skills through your LinkedIn profile.

Once you obtain that coveted job-shadowing opportunity, stay in touch with colleagues through LinkedIn. Build that relationship. Once opportunity often leads to the next.

Perseverance is key when seeking a job-shadowing opportunity. If the first person you contact tells you ‘no’, keep calling other prospects. Hands-on learning experiences are out there for ambitious students, but it often takes diligence and work to obtain them.

*About the author:

Kristen Moon is an independent college counselor and founder of Moon Prep provides one-on-one tutoring services catered to university admissions. They guide students through the entire application process including: completing applications, personal statements, supplemental essays, student resumes, scholarships, and financial aid. Their specialty lies in the Ivy League, direct medical programs (BS/MD), and highly competitive universities.

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