Designing Your First and Second Years

Resources for Summer Experiences, Campus Connection & Community Engagement

We want to partner with you as you follow your curiosity and explore options. Even in your early college years, there is so much you can do to gain experience and learn more about yourself and the world.

Don’t pressure yourself to take all of the steps mentioned here, and certainly not all at once! Look at the headings to pick one next right thing and begin there. Bookmark this page for easy reference. For answers to quick questions, or to get your resume reviewed, drop by The Career Center in DUC 110 or click on the Live Chat button to speak with a Career Peer or staff member in real time.

Get Involved on Campus and in the St. Louis Community

Campus activities help you make friends and have fun, but they also help you learn about yourself and grow skills. Your activities are an important part of your education.

Clubs and Activities through Campus Life
WashU features over 400 registered student groups that create a vibrant and active campus environment. Check out student group and University events and activities on WUGO.
Civic Engagement and Community Service
To find volunteer opportunities in St. Louis, visit STLVolunteer or the Campus Y Service Programs.
Part Time Work
To find jobs on campus, look for work study jobs on Handshake.

Assess Your Interests and Prep Your Resume for Summer Experiences

Before searching for an experience, it’s essential to understand your values, motivators, preferences and talents. Having a resume ready to go will allow you to apply for opportunities with no stress.

Consider the Following Prompts
Remember, there are no right answers, only your answers. What themes do you notice?

  • What have you enjoyed learning most? Least?
  • What are your top values?
  • What would feel like a meaningful experience?
  • What transferable skills have you honed already? Which do you want to build

Make Your College Resume and Build a LinkedIn Profile
  • Resumes & Cover Letters Handout
  • LinkedIn Resources for Students
  • Review your social media presence: Jump into the shoes of a hiring manager or a networking prospect: what do your images and posts say about you? Earnestly curating your social media posts can provide a fuller picture of who you are, beyond what’s touted in your resumes and cover letters. A well curated feed can reflect your level of interest and involvement in your desired field and serve as a huge boost for how others see you.

Explore Possible Careers

Find out what it’s really like to work within an industry, company, or profession, and whether you’d like to learn more.

Career Interest Groups
WashU Career Interest Groups strive to help you learn about work cultures and roles, access industry and organization information, connect with alumni and professionals, and prepare to be a great candidate for internships and jobs. They are organized by industry, functional skill sets, or interest areas.
Firsthand Guides
Firsthand Industry & Career Guides provide essential information about key careers and industries, with an emphasis on preparing for a career and getting your foot in the door. Each volume is loaded with up-to-date information on industry trends, employment and earnings statistics, and what employers look for in candidates. WashU Career Center provides you with free access to Firsthand. Create a profile using your wustl email address; you can make up your own password. When you logon click on “The Library.”

Connect with Professionals, Alumni & Fellow Students

Talking with people to learn about their challenges, rewards, ideas and advice is one of the most valuable ways to understand organizations and industries. This helps you evaluate your interest and become more knowledgeable. An informational interview is simply an exploratory conversation with someone who has worked or is working in a field or organization that interests you.


Build Skills & Experience through Volunteerism, Self-Directed Learning, Research or Study Abroad

Grow your personal and professional skill sets to enhance your candidacy, help you thrive and/or bring you joy.


Whether you prefer to volunteer in-person or virtually, there are many ways to offer your help and build your experience through service.

  • Volunteerism & Community Service at WashU: The Gephardt Institute hosts a virtual platform for engagement; you can add yourself to their volunteer list to meet the needs of St. Louis nonprofit partners. The Gephardt Institute also has summer fellowships and internships for service:
  • Volunteer Elsewhere: The United Way of Greater St. Louis lists an array of Volunteer From Home opportunities. The United Way operates branches in every major U.S. city and they support the health and human service network across our country, so you can also check the website for your local branch. VolunteerMatch, Catchafire and Idealist are sites that post opportunities for you to donate your skills to organizations in need of support. These are excellent resume and experience builders.
Sharpen Skills with LinkedIn Learning

Strive to acquire the valued professional skills you are learning about through industry research and conversations with professionals. Current WashU students have free unlimited access to LinkedIn Learning through WashU. You can learn from more than 7,500 video tutorials covering business, creative and technology topics. Learn in multiple languages from expert industry instructors. For example, you might want to teach yourself Google Analytics, learn to code, or increase your Excel mastery. These are skills that can be added to your resume.

Prepare for Future Research

As with internships, some First Years and Sophomores can find research opportunities in the summer, but it is more challenging at this stage than in the future. The Office of Undergraduate Research and BioSURF are good resources to check for bench and clinical research opportunities. Begin by identifying your interests, reviewing literature on existing work, reaching out to mentors and preparing yourself to be a good candidate.

Study Abroad

It’s possible to study abroad this summer. Check the WashU Global Opportunities site.

  • From Global Opportunities, click on the division or option of choice
  • Click on “Advanced Search” and toggle the Term to “Summer.” Make other selections and click “Search.”

Search for Internships or Part-Time Jobs

Formal internships are less common after your First Year, given the competition with more advanced students. This is particularly true at larger, more corporate organizations. However, you may be able to find something at a smaller organization, or perhaps in the non-profit sector.


  • Search Strategies Handout
  • Academic Credit for Internships
  • WashU database for jobs and internships: Handshake is a critical resource that allows you to look for positions, information sessions, and events for WashU students.
  • Company websites and industry job boards: While you might be tempted to spend time on sites like Indeed or LinkedIn Jobs, make sure you also work from your target list to visit websites of specific organizations you find interesting.
  • Career advice/posting websites: Idealist is an excellent source for internships, jobs and volunteer positions for all kinds of functional roles in the non-profit sector. The Muse and Firsthand offer practical advice on exploring career paths and finding a job. They also post positions. To access Firsthand, set up a free account using your Wustl email address and make up a password.
  • Tips for international students: For campus support related to work authorization or visa questions, visit the Office of International Students and Scholars website.
  • Part-time jobs: Consider looking for a job that can expose you to an industry that interests you or that will allow you to develop skills that will be valuable in the future.

Prepare for Interviewing

Practice telling your stories and rehearse with technology to ensure you’ll make a great impression.