Quick Ideas and Resources for First-Year Summer Opportunities!

Author name
Alicia Rhodes, Assistant Director, Duke University Career Center

First years, are you still looking for a something awesome to do this summer? Well, you are in luck, we have quite a few different ideas and resources to keep you preoccupied this summer and allow you the opportunity to grow and develop professionally!

1. Duke Summer Programs

Duke offers a variety of summer programs which you can take advantage of during your first summer at Duke. Some of those programs include: Bass Connections, Data+, and Story+ . These are amazing programs which will allow you to develop new skills, refine the skills you have, and provide hands-on experience in your area of interest. The deadlines for these programs are in February, so please review and act quickly if you are interested!

2. Internships

If you are in search of a summer internship, then CareerConnections should be your best friend! CareerConnections is the Career Center’s online portal where you can schedule an appointment with a career adviser, register to attend our workshops/events, and view and apply to internships.

  • If you have not yet updated your profile in CareerConnections, please do so and navigate through the system. As you are thinking about possible internships, it may be helpful to start looking at some of the postings available in the portal.
  • You may also want to attend the Fyrst Contact information sessions, where we invite employers who specifically want to interact with first years to conduct a virtual webinar. Although these events are virtual, we still request that you register through CareerConnections. In these information sessions, employers discuss their business, the skills they look for in candidates, and whether or not they are currently accepting interns. This is a great way to explore new companies and industries, as well as get inside information about possible internship opportunities!

There is also an internship page and Internship Guide located on the Career Center’s website, which provides additional resources for you to explore!

photographer at internship

3. Job Shadowing

Job Shadowing is an opportunity for you to observe the daily tasks of a position you are interested in. This can be low commitment and based upon your availability, so it can be a few weeks, a couple of days, a few hours, it is totally up to you and what you expect to get out of the experience. This is also ideal if you have various interests you would like to explore. You can job shadow and hold a full-time summer job or internship.

Finding job shadowing opportunities will require some research and connecting on your end. You will have to research organizations and positions you are interested in and find contact people to reach out to, to inquire if you would be able to job shadow. Connecting with family, friends, friends of family, professors, and alums (through use of the Alumni Directory) is a great way to learn more about various positions and potential job shadowing opportunities.

4. Summer Job

The summer after your first year is the first summer you can truly do anything you want to do. If you have a cool place that you have worked in the past or would like to work for in the summer, go for it! There is absolutely nothing wrong with having any summer job, as you will refine and develop plenty of great skills which you can talk about in your resume. Numerous employers who visit Duke have stated that they like to see that students have worked as a waiter/waitress, cashier, or fulfilled some sort of customer service role. This is great because it shows that you have communication skills and you know how to interact with other individuals, which will be vital to pretty much any position you are interested in.

5. Volunteer

Volunteering is a great option! You can find an organization that accepts volunteers and join their efforts or you can create your own volunteer opportunities. It is not uncommon for some first-year students to return to their hometown and volunteer at their old high school or within their own community. This is a great act of service and will also look amazing on your resume.

6. Enroll in summer courses

If there are additional interests you would like to learn more about, taking summer classes can be a great asset. You can learn more about some of things you are interested in or explore new options. Taking summer classes does not always mean enrolling in summer courses at Duke, that is a great option but you can take a course online at Lynda.com or take some courses at the local university in the town where you will be spending your summer.

7. Create your own summer experience

What if you don’t want to do anything we suggest? That is just fine! You can create your own summer experience, whether that means traveling, achieving goals you have for yourself, starting your own business, completing individual projects, or anything else you would like to do, it’s your summer and again, this will probably be the only summer you are able to do exactly what you want to do! Remember to have fun and be very intentional about the decisions you are making as it relates to your summer experience.


If you have additional questions or would like to speak with a career adviser about your plans for the upcoming summer, please do not hesitate to schedule an appointment in CareerConnections or if you have a quick question, stop by Drop-in Advising (Monday through Friday, 1-4 pm) which is also located at the Career Center!