In the midst of winter, SummerFest offers students summer opportunities

Mariana Alfaro, Assistant Campus Editor

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After a 2014 hiatus, Residential Services’ SummerFest returned this year to Norris University Center, with more than 20 different Northwestern offices offering summer activities for students.

Brad Zakarin, director of Residential Academic Initiatives and one of the co-founders of the event, said he decided to bring the event back this year after not offering it last year due to office changes.

“We decided to consider this a residential academic initiative because it really helps freshmen and sophomores connect with academic resources and the career development resources available on campus,” Zakarin said.

Zakarin said the event’s goal was to give students a chance to explore summer opportunities in time for them to meet spring application deadlines for many of the programs.

Students visiting SummerFest were introduced to activities ranging from research opportunities at the University to worldwide volunteering trips. Attendees also were able to enjoy a short break from the outside cold by eating cotton candy, ice cream and popcorn, and posing for pictures next to an inflatable ocean wave.

SummerFest differs from the Winter Internship and Job Fair, which will be held Jan. 13-14, by only offering opportunities within University offices, while the job fair involves outside employers and companies, Zakarin said.

“We really see [SummerFest and the job fair] as a one-two-punch for summer and year-after-graduation planning,” he said. “It’s a chance to find out what I can do in the context of Northwestern, what I can do outside … and what I can do to get all of my applications, references and materials together and hopefully have some choices when I hear back about all of the applications.”

Northwestern Career Advancement offered students a chance to review their resumes with a professional in order for them to be ready to look for internship opportunities.

Christina Siders, an NCA career counselor, said students should use the summer to explore career prospects.

“We encourage people to start looking into summer opportunities from their freshman year on,” she said. “The earlier you can get experience, the better.”

Hangda Zhang originally attended SummerFest to have her resume reviewed but stayed to explore the information tables.

“I think this fair is targeted to every student,” said the Medill freshman, who is from China. “Though I plan to go back to my home country this summer, I still find some programs pretty interesting and I might reconsider my decision.”

Offices represented in SummerFest will continue presentations in firesides across University residence halls and residential colleges during the rest of the year which, Zakarin said, will prepare students to face their parents the next time they’re asked what their summer plans are.

Twitter: @marianaa_alfaro