Many students feel pressured to find a good summer internship — but some students choose to be summer camp counselors instead.
Jeff Sackaroff, associate director of external relations for University Career Services, said the decision to be a camp counselor could be beneficial depending on the student’s major.
“It depends on where the student finds the most value and what they want to do when they graduate,” he said.
Sackaroff said for certain careers, such as banking, internships could be more beneficial, while being a camp counselor could be helpful for others, like social work. However, he said students can learn skills from different experiences that can benefit any career they choose to pursue.
First-year Anna Ranson said she has attended summer camp since she was a child and has worked at a YMCA summer camp for two years. She said she enjoys camp because it allows her to positively influence a child’s life.
So far, she said she has received strong support for her decision to work as a camp counselor rather than applying for summer internships.
“My parents like that I’m there because I get to have more fun,” Ranson said.
She also said she’s formed strong bonds with her camp co-workers, many of whom are fellow UNC students.
“It makes another community of people that you can rely on,” Ranson said.
Sophomore Kelly Mahoney said she has faced more adverse reactions, partially because she’s closer to graduating and having to find a job. She has spent seven years as a camper and three as a counselor.
She said she’s learned many workplace skills as a counselor, including thinking on her feet, learning how to get along with every type of personality and having to imagine creative solutions.
Mahoney said she is unsure whether or not she will be a counselor again. She said she is taking the advice of her boss at camp: “You should keep coming back until you have something better.”
Until she finds a better opportunity that could benefit her future career, Mahoney said she hopes to continue being a counselor. She said she isn’t worried about not having had an internship because many students her age have not had one yet either.
Some students can gain the same type of experience from camp that they would from an internship. Junior Eric Royer is an environmental studies major who said he plans to be a science teacher. Though working as a camp counselor will help him know how to deal with children, he said he doesn’t do it for the addition to his resume.
“No one does camp for the money,” Royer said. “You get paid very, very little.”
“You do camp because, in the end, what you’re getting out of it is gonna be so much more than you ever thought you could.”