On episode 182, Alexis Avila talks to Jill Tipograph Founder of Everything Summer, LLC, a firm that helps students discover their passions through enriching summer and gap experiences.  Jill has an MBA from NYU and over 20 years of experience working with students. She is author of Your Everything Summer Guide and Planner and has been featured  on both the New York Times and the Today’s Show.

On today’s episode Jill talks about why students should consider summer experiences and internships while in high school.

Did you know? Some competitive camp applications are due in December!

Keep in mind: Just because programs are competitive doesn’t mean they are good or right for YOU!

Jill’s advice: To avoid summer slide, balance your mind with creativity and physical health, and take a break to avoid burnout! Also keep a journal of your summer experiences and engage in intellectual conversation.

Did you know? There are over 800 careers today. Jill’s company Early Stage Careers has a 99% success rate.

Jill’s advice for teens:

  1. Learn about yourself and your interests
  2. Be comfortable with the uncomfortable and learn to take risks early
  3. Have residential summer experience while in high school

No matter what happens, it’s going to be ok. Make the most of your situation, so you can tell your unique story.


Announcer: Welcome to “The Prepped and Polished Podcast,” the podcast that empowers you to take control of your education, featuring weekly interviews with influencers in the world of education as well as tutoring tips, lessons, and updates. And now, here’s your host, Alexis Avila.

Alexis: Welcome back to “The Prepped and Polished Podcast.” This is episode 182. Make sure to join our Prepped and Polished community. You can find us on SoundCloud and Facebook and Twitter. Just type Prepped and Polished and you’ll find us. Go to preppedandpolished.com if you need any tutoring or test preparation. We work with students in person and online. Have a question or reaction during and after the podcast? Submit your question to radio at preppedandpolished.com.

Today on episode 182 I’m talking to Jill Tipograph, founder of Everything Summer LLC, a firm that helps students discover their passions through enriching summer and gap experiences. Jill has an MBA from NYU and over 20 years of experience working with students. She’s the author of “Your Everything Summer Guide and Planner” and has been featured on both “The New York Times” and The Today Show. On today’s episode, Jill talks about what students should consider summer experiences and internships while in high school. So let’s get right to it. This is Episode 182 with Jill Tipograph.

Jill, thanks so much for coming on the Prepped and Polished podcast. Appreciate your time. Thanks for coming today.

Jill: My pleasure.

Alexis: So, can you tell our audience of a little bit of your background focusing on maybe a few pivotal moments that led you to where you are today really as an international expert in the field of summer programs and camps and internships?

Jill: I would love to. So actually, I feel very fortunate because for more than 22 years I have been pursuing my passion as my vocation actually, helping young people discover who they are, having different kinds of experiences that are gonna help prepare them for their next phase in life in terms of building grit and resilience, self-confidence and skills. But this is actually my second career. I spent more than a dozen years in Corporate America as a marketing and advertising executive after I got my MBA in Marketing from NYU Stern School of Business.

So I was trained in research and analysis, problem-solving, creativity and how to actually work well with people, so I was especially honing my listening skills. I do recall a pivotal example where C-suite clients would say to me repeatedly that I could listen and put my finger on the challenge and help them solve it. And I feel that that has carried me through, in terms of working with my clients.

And the last thing is that my children went through many milestones, and I feel that…and they’re millennials now…that my first-hand experience really has helped me help my clients. I also wrote a book about the summer planning process, “Your Everything Summer Guide and Planner,” and that’s on our website.

Alexis: Wow. So, can you tell us just a little bit about Everything Summer, your company, and what type of services does your company provide?

Jill: Yes. So we are an educational consultancy, and all we focus on is summer planning and enrichment. But we take a very holistic approach in really understanding our clients, not just a transaction in terms of, “Oh, this trip looks interesting,” but more, “What are your needs? Where are you trying to develop? What are your plans and how do we get you there?” And it spans every type of program out there. And so we’re looking at this intersection in terms of who the student is, what they do with school, where there are gaps, what are some of their interests, what if they don’t have passions, how do we help them find passions? So we’re doing all of this in a pivotal time, which is summer.

Alexis: Absolutely. And approximately, how many summer camps and programs are out there? You know, and how do you, like, narrow down one program for one student?

Jill: Well, truthfully there are thousands, there are thousands and thousands of camps and programs, and a lot of it has to do with how you define them. But the thing that’s really tricky beyond there being a volume of a number of programs that you can’t really understand is that there’s always new ones coming in and the current ones are changing. And you’ll never be able to really understand what’s really going on in the market unless you spend your time like we do. I have been, for 23 years, every hour, studying the industry and understanding what’s good and what’s not good based on client needs.

In terms of, you know, narrowing things down, we actually take a different approach, which is, let’s try to be more global and holistic in the programs that we look at for young people and then, based on a number of critical factors and personal needs, narrow it down, not be narrow on set. Because you’ll actually miss out on opportunities that could really help you develop and find a new direction and figure out what path that you should be pursuing as you look at the college admissions process.

Alexis: That’s really smart. So, now, are summer camps and programs competitive to get into?

Jill: Certainly, many are. There’s all different levels of competition. There’s competition that can be based on sheer numbers. It could be that there’s so many applicants and they have to find a process in terms of how do you select the ones that are right. It could also be the inverse of that, where it’s a very small program and therefore there’s only 25 students and you have hundreds of application, it becomes competitive. Or there are those that are deemed competitive from the outset, you know, such as some of the Ivys that run very competitive programs. And things to keep in mind regarding competition is, believe it or not, some programs actually close applications in December or January for the following summer.

So, yes. So when parents come to us in February and they think that they have all the time in the world and their student wants one of those very competitive programs, you know, we’ll say to them, “Well, did you know that that program’s application was due January 15th? So you won’t be able to apply.” And they’re, “What?” That’s right. So the competition could be set on the deadlines as well.

Alexis: Amazing. So, is the…

Jill: You know what? I just want to mention one thing, Alexis.

Alexis: Sure.

Jill: Parents keep this in mind, the fact that a program is competitive doesn’t mean that it’s the best and it doesn’t mean that it’s right for your students.
And I think that parents have to really think about their teen in terms of where they’re going to flourish and where they’re going to grow and that it doesn’t mean that it’s the end all and be all if you can’t attend that program. So I think that’s really important, and sometimes parents, you know, get caught up in, rightfully so, what’s going on, in terms of college admissions, but it’s not the only way for them to grow and to learn something if they can’t go to that particular program because it may not be right for them.

Alexis: That’s an amazing point. So, now, is the summer slide a reality given that the school year ends in June, resumes in September? And if so, do you find that these summer camps and programs are a good way to keep students learning and motivated in the summer?

Jill: I think the summer slide is something that educators have been dealing with for a very long time. I even remember myself going back to camp, you know, taking that time off. And everybody needs a break., but I think we have to keep those muscles working. But we have to find ways to let them work at the same time letting a student not feel like they were in that same grind because they will burn out.

Now, having said that there are many students that wanna pursue academics in the summer because they want to, and that’s the key question. They wanna learn something about themselves, they wanna try something new, they’re curious about a particular course, they wanna get ahead in something. But not everyone is on that track. And even if you are, we’re always advocating for students to take a break because if you come back and you’re burnt out, and you have a long school year ahead of you, how are you going to pace yourself and be able to, you know, give a stellar performance and get fantastic grades? So we’re always looking for a balance.

So, for instance, when we’re working with students and the students want to do something academic, and the summer can be long, and it’s good to have more than one experience, we like to balance the cerebral with something physical or something artistic, something that uses the other side of the brain and helps students relax a little bit. So I think that’s really important to keep that in mind. But some small examples of things that I think students can be doing to help not have summer slide. Keep a journal, you know, write down your experiences. I mean, that helps you ultimately in terms of college applications, but it’s more kind of a reflection, and it keeps you thinking about, “What are you doing? What are you getting out of it?” And then maybe you’re saying, “Well, I’m not really thinking as much. So maybe I should be reading.”

You know, the other thing, I think, in terms of summer slide, is intellectual conversations. I think conversation is a lost art today, and verbal communication is an Achilles heel for a lot of students especially as they get into college and trying to get into the working world. So honing those skills by having healthy discussions about topics that are interesting or timely or current, is a way to use, I think, the mind.

Alexis: Those are awesome, awesome tips. So now, what are some things that you find families do wrong when approaching the summer in general?

Jill: Well, the first thing is that they don’t and they…not all, but some, do not really include their teens in the process. And I know that sounds surprising, but I think…I do know that parents always have good intentions, but sometimes they feel that a student doesn’t have the insight or the foresight to think about what they should be doing this summer.

But our experience has been that if they don’t have skin in the game, they’re not gonna be successful and they’re not gonna be committed because it’s one thing to get into a program and enroll in it, but it’s up to that student to get something out of it, we’re always outcome-driven. What’s the goal to go? What are you looking to gain? So if a student feels forced, then it backfires, not just in terms of their own child, but it actually impacts the whole group because they’re letting it be known they didn’t want to be there. So I think letting teens be a driving force or encouraging them to be a driving force and part of the discussion is important.

The other thing is, sometimes parents tend to be a little bit too narrow, too focused. They may come to us and say, “My student needs to get better in writing, so let’s focus on writing courses.” So we’ll take a step back and say, “Well, do they like to write? Is it creative writing? It’s a composition. Is it something that you like to do? Do you see them writing at home? Do you see them trying to do some extracurriculars with it?” So we try to broaden their mind and get them to be more open-minded and flexible. We can understand who is the student, what are their interests, what’s going on at school and what kind of experience will help them because usually, it’s multiple.

Another, I’d say misconception is, they try to fit a lot into one program in a short amount of time. And it’s like anything in life that if you don’t put enough time into it, you can’t really reap the results that you want. So thinking that in one week you’re going to master a subject or you’re going to master a skill is not accurate. I see you nodding your head. You know, it’s the same thing with you with tutoring, they need repetition, right? They need practice.

Alexis: They do, they need time, absolutely.

Jill: So I think they need to be realistic. So what we try to help parents and students understand is what’s the core of the summer, where can you have an opportunity that’s a little bit longer and then maybe sit in one or two shorter experiences to complete the summer.

Alexis: Amazing. Can you just tell us a little bit about your other company that you started? It’s Early Stage Careers. And what types of services does Early Stage Careers provide?

Jill: So, just a little segue into how I got into this because I think that’s important, is that for all the years that I’ve been helping families with their kids, with enrichment and summer experiences, etc., parents started coming back to us as trusted advisers to help them with the next part of their life, and at the same time that my own children were kinda going through this transition into their early careers. And what parents may not understand is that first-time job seeker needs are unique and that getting from college to career is infinitely more complex and overwhelming than they understand. In fact, when we talk to parents they say, “I couldn’t get a job now because when I look for a job 25 years ago, the landscape was different,” and that is very true. I don’t know if you know, but there’s more than 800 careers today, that’s very overwhelming. So it’s important once a student gets to college to make the most of their time there to maximize their opportunities. And we actually have a 99% track record of success with our outcome-driven approach to help these young people get hired today.

So navigating the process is very stressful. And we try to take that away from parents. I actually started this with a career boot camp I did several years ago, many years ago with Tory Johnson of Good Morning America, in terms of new graduates, right when the recession occurred. And I saw a huge gap in the marketplace between what students had, in terms of readiness and preparedness, and what they lacked in terms of what employers were seeking and how to bridge that gap. So I co-founded that with my partner so that we could help them transition successfully through our career assessments, our internship guidance, and helping them secure their first jobs post-college. So that is what we do at Early Stage Careers. And also, I’m a member of the Forbes coaches council, so I’m a certified selected member that works for them in this particular endeavor.

Alexis: Wow, you can’t beat 99%. That’s great. Congratulations. How do we best get in touch with you?

Jill: The best way is info@everythingsummer.com and then we can respond to the requests that parents send in.

Alexis: Perfect. And for teenagers listening to us today who are really excited about crossing that bridge to young adulthood, any advice?

Jill: Yes. Several pieces of advice, I thought about this in my many years of wisdom of working with all the teens and my own children and thinking forward in terms of where they have to go. So just a few things, not in a particular order. It’s really important that teens try to learn about themselves. Who are they? What matters to them? What are their values? What are their interests?

Be true to who you are, but yet, really be open with becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable. That’s really important because it’s not just yourself, but when you get to college you’re gonna be encountering all kinds of experiences. So take the chance to get to know yourself and take some smaller risks while you’re still in high school to prepare. You know, one thing that’s really interesting is that we did our own research, we do this every few years with college admissions at the top colleges, and the two things that they say that teens are most unprepared for in terms of being successful in college is time management and living in a community.

So anything they can do earlier in their high school years to hone these skills is important. And the best way to learn how to live in a community is to have residential summer experiences while in high school so that you get used to different accommodations, you get used to listening to different types of supervision, you get used to not having as much oversight and having to navigate things on your own because you don’t want to stumble for the first time when you go to college.

Oh, and one more piece of advice, sorry, is that there’s no one template or cookie cutter way to prepare to be successful in college or that one program that’s gonna make a difference. It’s really all about, what do you do with all of this? You know, how do you walk and develop so that you have a story to share with college admissions? And you have a story about yourself that you can build on. And to understand that, no matter what happens in terms of where you get to go to college, it’s gonna be okay because you’re gonna learn to make the most of the situation and find things that make you happy and motivate you.

Alexis: Fantastic. I love it. Well, Jill thanks so much for your time today and thanks for coming on “The Prepped and Polished Podcast” and have a great day, appreciate it.

Jill: Thank you so much. I appreciate it too.

Alexis: And this wraps up our show today. This was episode 182 with Jill Tipograph. To connect with Jill at work with her check out www.everythingsummer.com. I Hope you enjoyed episode 182. Tune in to our next podcast episode, 183, which will be our next tutoring tips episode.
To access today’s episode, 182, and all our podcast episodes, head over to preppedandpolished.com/podcast. Now, thank you for joining us today on “The Prepped and Polished Podcast.” Now go out there and take control of your education.

Announcer: You’ve been listening to “The Prepped and Polished Podcast.” For more information, check out preppedandpolished.com. Also, you can follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for listening. Class dismissed.

What was your biggest takeaway from this podcast about why summer programs and internships are important? Do you have any questions for Jill Tipograph and Alexis Avila?

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