Maybe you started looking late or didn’t even consider doing an internship this summer. Reality has hit and now school is out. You can have a great summer even without an internship.
In between binging on Netflix and a road trip or two, here are some very creative ways to spend your summer without an internship.
Volunteer opportunities come in all shapes and sizes. Look for causes that you care about deeply. There is likely an organization dedicated to it that you can spend time working with this summer. Examples might include promoting organ donor registration, planting gardens in your neighborhood, summer sports leagues, and the list goes on. Google is your friend. You can also search site like www.volunteer.gov/ for opportunities in your area.
While you are giving back, you can also learn new skills that can help you in the future. Non-profits often lack resources, so the chance to build a social media marketing campaign, learn about budgets, recruit volunteers etc. all present the opportunity to put real skills into action.
One summer, I went to take a donation of clothing to a women’s shelter. Intrigued by the services they provided, I asked to come back the next day to learn more about how they served the women and families. After my tour I asked about an internship in the public relations department. I got it.
Although it was an unpaid internship, I enjoyed spending time with the organization and helping others. However, because it was unpaid, I could only devote about 10 hours per week so I could still work and save money for school. Internship opportunities are everywhere.
2. Get a job
Part-time or full-time jobs in the summer can be hit or miss. I literally had like 15 jobs over the course of my college career. I worked retail at multiple places (Wegmans, Radio Shack, Lord & Taylor, a hardware store and more), was a counselor at recreation center, box office cashier at a movie theatre and was a receptionist at a hospital, all in between my multiple internships. Working at the movie theatre was actually a very fun job that I kept for 2 years. I mean free movies!
My part-time jobs gave me money for school, helped me learn to manage my time, and allowed me to work with a variety of people and personalities. Get out there and start walking into businesses and knocking on doors. In addition to online searches through sites like indeed.com and careerbuilder.com.
Your summer job can also provide you with future employment references. Take advantage of the opportunity to look at your summer job and contribute creatively to the environment. Offer suggestions and learn about the business – whatever it is. As a manager, one of the questions I used to ask interns during the interview process was, “Tell me about a time at a previous job or internship where you made a suggestion to improve a process?”
I wasn’t looking for a prospective intern so tell me they introduced a cost cutting measure saving the company $1 million. I was checking to see that they were actively engaged and thinking of ways to contribute to their work environment.
3. Massive Online Open Courses (MOOC’s)
Massive Online Open Courses are awesome and free. The idea of classes over the summer might not immediately be appealing, but it could be a great experience. You can learn more about a particular area or dive into an entirely new subject.
You can learn to code, build websites, manage social media, learn a foreign language, discover analytics or study basic business principles. You will gain knowledge, skills and possibly discover a new passion. If you are thinking about changing majors or picking up a minor, MOOC’s can be a chance to take on a new subject without the pressure of messing up your GPA.
4 . Informational interviews
Informational interviews are interviews you conduct with professionals in positions that you want to learn more about. If you think you want be an architect, interview an architect. Want to be a mechanical engineer, interview an engineer.
Informational interviews are the perfect way to explore careers and learn first-hand if you want to go down that path. If you have multiple ideas for career choices, then you can spend the summer doing 3-5 interviews. As a bonus, the person might let you shadow them for a day so that you get an inside peak a day in the life.
Here are 10 questions to ask at an informational interview.
5. Game plan for the next year
In 2013, the 6-year graduation rate was 59 percent at public institutions, 65 percent at private nonprofit institutions, and 32 percent at private for-profit institutions. A lot of college students do not graduate in four-years.
The extra time in college costs money – a lot of money. It results in more debt but also, lost earnings from not being in the work force. Download your free guide, 5 Tips to Make Sure you Graduate in 4 Years to make sure you deveop a plan.
In short, make sure you are on pace to graduate on time. Do a degree audit and make sure that the courses you’ve completed already and are registered for, meet the requirements for your major and degree. If you are behind, you need to spend the summer putting together a game plan to catch up. It could mean taking a course at a community college (you can also do this to get ahead), taking a summer course at your school or online, using CLEP tests to earn credit or figuring out a potential independent study option.
If you are nearing your third or fourth year and you are not on track to graduate on time, you might need to take an overloaded schedule or find an internship for academic credit to graduate on time. Don’t wait until it is too late.
6. Keep looking for an Internship
In May and even early June you might still be able to land an internship. It might not be your dream internship but an experience nonetheless. One month – 6 weeks is still a good amount of time to test the waters of a new profession, test your classroom application skills and make some important networking connections.
If you didn’t land an internship this summer, all hope is not lost for you to still have a productive summer. If you have other suggestions, share them below.