Junior Summer Programs (JSE)

Junior Summer Programs (JSE) is our new program launching in Summer 2018. Instead of going to a summer program, you'll choose how you want to spend your time. Tell us what you'll do and why you want it, and we'll cover the costs. And when you come back from the summer, show us something cool you created.

You can find an internship, sell something for a profit, create an app, organize a volunteering event, travel and create a photo essay, interview your grandparents ... It's entirely up to you. It sounds daunting to have so much free reign, we know, but your mentors and the JSE team are here to help!

Scroll down for more details and resources. If you have any questions or feedback, feel free to reach out by filling out the contact form on this page or emailing us at JSE@mindsmattersf.org


You will create a project to explore something personally meaningful. It will be an invaluable opportunity for you to not only explore your interests, but pick up some cool life skills along the way and also tell an awesome story in your college personal statements. 

Here are the objectives of the JSE.  1.  EXPLORE  your career interests, academic interests, values, or passion  2.  LEARN  about a new topic and develop soft skills such as project management and leadership  3.  CREATE  a tangible deliverable that reflects your unique experience, growth, and values  4.  TELL  a compelling story about you to the world and the college admissions officers 

Here are the objectives of the JSE.

1. EXPLORE your career interests, academic interests, values, or passion

2. LEARN about a new topic and develop soft skills such as project management and leadership

3. CREATE a tangible deliverable that reflects your unique experience, growth, and values

4. TELL a compelling story about you to the world and the college admissions officers 

Building your Summer Experience

We want you to enjoy the summer experience. We also want you to stand out from the college applicants, because everyone is well-rounded and you don't want to pitch yourself simply as a well-rounded individual. JSE will help you explore your interest or passion this summer and demonstrate that to the college admissions officers.

For example:

  • Do you love fashion? Make a 15-minute documentary about the world of Instagram fashion bloggers. 
  • Do you like money? Invest $1,000 in stocks with a goal of making a 30% profit over the summer.
  • Is your Mexican heritage really important to you? Interview your Grandpa, collect some historical photos or newspaper articles, and create a 15-minute documentary about your Grandpa's life.

Scroll down to see more sample projects.


Here are some materials we shared in the sessions to help you reflect on your own interests, values, and identity.

Nov 4, 2017 presentation focused on exploring your career and academic interests. 

Nov 11, 2017 presentation focused on exploring your identity and values.


Of course, your mentors are there to support you and crystallize your dream project. In addition, here are some other people and organizations who can help you.

We sent out a survey to the MMSF volunteers and asked them for help. Here are their responses. Read about their background and reach out if you think they can help you with your summer experience.

Your draft ideas are shared with volunteers who offered to help. Make sure to do it!

BlueStem Engineering is a hands on technology program for high school students. No lectures, tests, or homework. You just build cool stuff from scratch.

SFPD is collaborating with local organizations and businesses to offer cool internships and summer jobs for high school students

Project Examples

Here are some examples of projects you can do. Please remember that the JSE is brand new and it's never been done before. Do not limit yourselves to what's provided here and unleash your creativity. Your mentors will help make that into a reality.

Business Examples

  1. I'm interested in the career path in accounting and finance. This summer, I want to make handmade bracelets and sell them. My deliverable will be accounting journals. I'll also analyze how this business could be improved in the future.
  2. I am interested in investments and wealth management. I want to invest $1,000 in different ways and try to double it. My deliverable will be a journal showing my daily stock value and industry research relevant to my stock portfolio.

Self-Learning Examples

  1. I want to become a programmer. This summer, I want to learn to code and create a simple stretch reminder alarm clock app or a small talking, moving, remote-controlled robot through Blue Stamp Engineering. That will be my deliverable. 
  2. I heard that data analysis was useful in a lot of different fields, ranging from marketing to finance to product management to whatever. So I want to sign up for the data analyst courses for $30/month on DataQuest.io and complete the entire Data Analyst set over the summer. I'll be learning python, SQL, and data visualizations. My deliverable will be a presentation of data analysis projects I complete in this course. 
  3. I love MMSF. To help other students here and to decide which college I wanna go, I plan to visit five college campuses and write blog posts about them. I'll interview passers-by, take some photographs, and put those into my blog posts.

Community Service Examples

  1. I'm really interested in the economic inequalities in San Francisco. So I want to organize a free haircut day for homeless people of San Francisco. I'll have a collection of before-and-after photos of the people who get their hair cut at this one-day event.
  2. I am passionate about expanding horizons and helping different communities understand each other. So this summer, with three other mentees, we're going to do a picture exchange among four groups of children in different cities and economic backgrounds. The children will be asked to draw whatever comes to their mind when they hear the word, "fun". Then we'll collect those pictures and swap them with the children from another group. Based on the idea of Paintbrush Diplomacy. I'll create a blog showcasing all the pictures and the stories that go with each painting. 

Research Examples

  1. I like parks, because they make me happy. So I want to study the impact of urban parks on people’s health and happiness. I will read academic literature and newspaper articles to write a research paper. 
  2. I want to major in physics in college. This summer, I'm going to do a science experiments about paper planes made of various types of paper. I'll create a short lab report plus provide some photos/videos.
  3. I'm interested in going to the law school. I want to research how well Oakland and San Francisco respond to disasters or emergency situations and how a new law could improve this. I'll interview at least two city officials. As a deliverable, I'll write a research paper.

Jobs and Internship Examples

  1. I’m really interested in becoming a pharmacist. I am going to work at my aunt’s pharmacy in Santa Rosa for four weeks. I’ll be shelving products, cleaning, greeting the customers, and help at the cashier. I'll keep a daily journal as my deliverable.
  2. I’m really interested in tech and want to intern at a start-up to gain basic business skills. As a deliverable, I'll put together a pitch and a slide deck to demonstrate what this start-up sells.

Art Project Examples

  1. The world is a volatile place right now and I want to know where and how people are hurting. I plan to collect voice clips from 50 people from the street freely discussing what peace means. Then, I want to create a 10-minute sound clip with snippets of these conversations, kinda like a collage.
  2. I like theater. This summer, I want to create a 20-minute comedy video about senioritis in high school. Actors wanted!
  3. My Vietnamese immigrant heritage and history are important to me. So this summer, I want to work on a photography portfolio to improve my photography skills and to capture the essence of the Vietnamese community in the city. That portfolio with commentary will be uploaded online and will be my deliverable. 

Other Examples

  1. I love fashion and I also happen to be interested in careers in marketing. This summer, I am going to reach out to three San Francisco-based Instagram fashion bloggers and see if I can interview them and learn about affiliate marketing. The deliverable will be a 15-minute video explaining how each blogger successfully built their brand and how they make money out of their contents as marketing affiliates. 
  2. I'm really interested in Middle Eastern politics. For 10 weeks over the summer, I want to create a weekly podcast about 10-minutes long, summarizing the current events and political news in the region. 

Application Process

Here are the draft application questions as of Dec 17, 2017.

You need to have specific programs or ideas you’ll be applying for. Make sure to have backup plans in case they don’t work out! (e.g., it can be difficult for a high school student to secure a summer internship.)

  1. I am applying for a/an:
    • Internship
    • Research Project (sponsored)
    • Individual Project
    • Community Service
    • Summer Program
    • Other
  2. Describe your proposed JSE (250-500 words)
  3. How will this experience enable you to continue your growth?
  4. What opportunities will this experience provide or which doors will this open for you?
  5. Why are you interested in this JSE?
  6. What are your primary learning/growth objectives from this JSE?  (Describe at least two.)  (150-300 words)
  7. What is your deliverable? The work product or tangible item that is going to result from your experience. Examples include: Journal, blog, website, podcast, video, research paper, app, etc.(50-150 words)
  8. Describe travel entailed with this proposed JSE.
    1. How are you getting there?
    2. Describe your housing arrangements.  It is essential that your housing be acceptably arranged - with sign-off from a parent/guardian - before embarking on your JSE.

Note for Mentors

Mentors, you have a vital role in helping your mentees develop a summer experience plan. While it's important to let the mentees take the creative reign on how they should spend their summer, they will require a lot of guidance on the logistical side. Here are some considerations.

  1. Safety is our top priority.
  2. Budgeting - Our budget for each student is up to $1,500. 
  3. Planning and organization may be new to the student. Have they considered the Caltrain fares to get to Menlo Park every day in their budget? 
  4. How dependent is this project on other people? If the other party fails to fulfil the desired outcome (e.g., grant the student the internship or be available for interviews), how does it impact the student's project?
  5. If the student wants to travel, how will they get there, where will they stay, and who will be with them? Does the student need a visa?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  1. How much money will I get? Each student may receive up to $1,500.
  2. What do I have to produce at the end? Your deliverable is an integral part of the Junior Summer Experiences. The format is not restricted to anything. Please create something tangible that showcases your lessons, growth, skills, or reflections. Some examples include a program/app, journals, videos, podcasts, research papers, and blog posts.
  3. Can I work with other people? Yes, of course. You can reach out to your fellow mentees or even friends at school to do something together.
  4. Where can I go to do my summer project? You’re not limited to the US. However, safety is top priority, so we need you to have a robust plan and also need your parents to agree.
  5. What is the suggested length of JSE? It's up to you and is only limited by funding. 
  6. Can I do two projects? Yes. Put it in the proposal.
  7. Is pre-college summer program still an option? Yes, but we strongly encourage you to do something different this summer. JSE is meant to help you thoughtfully carve out your summer and do something meaningful. We encourage you to think hard and dig deeper into your interest. 
  8. Do I need to have all logistics figured out, like have an internship offer or summer program acceptance? Yes, work on it parallel.
  9. What if my plan doesn't work out? Discuss with your mentors about how to best design a project that is likely to succeed. Try to plan something that is not entirely dependent on another organization giving you an opportunity, like a summer program or an internship. If you really want something that has a degree of uncertainty, then consult your mentors and have backup plans. We'll try to set up the application in a way that considers multiple options.

Contact us

Please feel free to send us any questions, thoughts, or concerns. You can email us at JSE@mindsmattersf.org or fill out the form below.

Your Name *
Your Name