It’s almost time for summer break, when children look forward to that great feeling of freedom, sleeping late, swimming, and simply hanging out. It’s the time to enjoy the smell of sunscreen, salt water, and sea air. Pure joy.

But what about older students—say high school or even middle school? The summer months can be a great way for them to make a big splash for their future. While in school, most students focus on grades or sports and most of that takes a break in the summer.

Here are ten encouraging tips for students looking to add something to their summer to-do list that can put them ahead of others who choose to do nothing over the summer:

1. Get an Internship

Even if an internship doesn’t offer a salary, it will pay dividends later. Internships are a great way to get some exposure to a business or industry and they don’t have to be full-time. For example, I hire high school and college students to help us with simple tasks in my shop like updating a website, taking photos for Instagram at events, etc. But the interns only have to work a few hours per week and the schedule is flexible.

2. Get a Summer Job

Both of my children are students (one is 16 and in high school and my son is in college), and they have jobs. My rule is if you can drive, then you can work. Working over the summer provides a needed income and adds value on a resume by demonstrating a good work ethic—something all employers want to see. Once they have money coming in, it’s also a good idea for students to open a bank account and start saving.

3. Start Summer School

Students can take a summer school class to get ahead or bring up their GPA. Taking a class on the ACT test, if they haven’t already, is also helpful. Make it a summer goal to improve your student’s ACT score.

4. Be Career Oriented

Summer is a great time to explore future career goals. Is your student a good writer? Encourage him to submit an op-ed piece to the local paper in support of an issue he feels passionate about. Does she like charity work? Seek volunteer opportunities in the community through a church or local charity. It’s all good experience to explore a future career.

5. Be a Mentor

Students who are doing well in a subject can use the summer months to mentor another student or tutor students. Many students struggle through school and need the assistance of student tutors. This is a great way for your students to sharpen their leadership skills!

6. Read the Paper

Older students should make a habit to read the newspapers in the community every day. It is important to know what is going on in the world and, as an employer, I want any students I hire to have a good grasp of business and community issues.

7. Try Job Shadowing

If possible, students should try to shadow a parent or another adult for a week at their job. Most people will be happy to allow this, and it is a great way to get an inside look at how a business runs. They can ask questions and gain a perspective of what the workforce is truly like.

8. Write a Resume

It is never too early to build an online resume. Students should start a resume on LinkedIn and get someone to review it. They can use it as a “running list” of what they’ve accomplished and add to it each year. It will be amazing what you see and will make a big splash when future recruiters, coaches, and employers are looking at candidates.

9. Read!

Students should make an effort to read a book in a field that they’re interested in studying. I know some students don’t like reading, especially in the summer, but it is important.

10. Work Outside

Some manual labor like cutting grass and yard work can be beneficial. I think students have lost the art of digging in the dirt, and parents should teach students more about growing plants and taking care of the earth.


Fortunately, in today’s technology-driven world, there are a lot of ways older students can be productive during the summer months. Encourage your child, whether a ninth grader just starting out in high school or a sophomore in college, to get out there and gain valuable experience that will be beneficial to them in the long run.

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