Since there aren’t many other options, you should use your winter break to find summer internships. Your winter break used to consist of sleeping in, mom’s cooking, seeing friends, your old room, and no homework. Well, depending on where you are, you may have never left home for the fall semester this year. Seeing friends might be only via Facetime. The unknown future due to COVID-19 provides all the more reason to spend your winter break finding summer internships.
The least fun part of being home is dealing with annoying questions from family.
“What are you studying again?”
“What are you going to do with a degree in that?”
“Found a job yet?”
“Are you going to graduate school?
You may or may not have any answers. I don’t care if you have answers for them, I want you to have answers for YOU. If you are a senior, things are getting really real as you buckle down on your job, grad school or post grad internship search. Even if you aren’t graduating in six months, using this winter time wisely can have a big impact on your upcoming summer internships.
Taking the time to do these things below can help you gain confidence on what can happen over the next few months. When little is predictable, you can have confidence that you are taking step to have a productive summer 2021.
Resting and Refocus
Sleep, eat, be a little lazy, exercise, talk a few walks, read a fun book, wrestle with your younger siblings and hug your family. Sometimes just being home can be enough to get you back to balance and your focus right. Resting is required for your physical and mental well-being.
However, don’t spend your entire break in bed or binge watching Netflix, Hulu, Disney+ etc. Get your baby Yoda fix on for sure, but make sure you put in some work too.
In these changing times, you might also start to think more critically about your coures and career choices. What industries have been hit hard and which industires are thriving? After a cold long winter, will summer 2021 internships be availble in your area of interest? While your rest, and declutter your mind, you can think about things more clearly.
Work on Your Resume
If you don’t have a resume, it’s time to make one. Update your resume every semester with new internships, clubs or skills you’ve gained. A resume is a one-page summary of your experience, education, skills, leadership and volunteer activities. Learn the elements of what makes a good resume and how to write a cover letter. These two tools are vital to your internship or job search.
For help, start with the career services office on campus. Even if you are not on campus, check the career services website for basic information, virtual meetings, resume templates and tips on where to begin (or you can download my free resume template). Most career services offices also offer resume reviews or critiques too. You can also check to see if they offer mock interviews. The more you prepare for an interview, the less nervous you will be.
I am a big fan of informational interviews. An informational interview is an interview you conduct with a professional in the career field you want to pursue. It is the perfect opportunity to learn about what it takes to succeed in an industry, challenges you could face, what the day-to-day life is like in that career and network.
Attempting to contact the CEO of a Fortune 500 company will probably not get you any results. This is where you start with your local network (parent’s jobs, neighbors, church members, fraternity or sorority members etc.) and then move onto using school resources to tap into the alumni network.
Through networking, you should be able to identify at least one opportunity to sit down or have a brief phone call with someone that can give you insight. Since you likely have no classes, you’ll have the time to find the right person and connect.
Create Your LinkedIn Profile
Use this time off to create your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is an online community for professionals of all levels to connect, network, share and learn. Many companies, large and small post jobs and internships through LinkedIn. They also use it to locate and connect with potential candidates.
Your LinkedIn profile should mirror your resume, however, it provides the opportunity to include additional information. You can write a professional summary, highlight skills, add recommendations, share a portfolio and publish content. The other great thing is that you can find and directly apply for jobs and internships through LinkedIn.
As a current student, you should not feel pressured to have a profile that fills in all the boxes to oversell who you are. Focus your energy on a solid summary and matching the sections of your resume to the online profile.
Get your resume ready, create your LinkedIn profile and start applying ASAP. Don’t miss an opportunity because you missed a deadline. Download my free Internship Manual Tracker with a free resume template to keep yourself on track.
The most useful way to spend this time off is to actually start applying for internships. Many companies are already accepting applications for summer 2021 – for virtual or in person internships. Companies like ViacomCBS, NBCUniversal, Netflix, Johnson & Johnson and so many others are already accepting applications for PAID summer internships (including post grad internships) across departments.
Depnding on your career goals, you can also start applying to graduate school programs. Use the break to study for any required standardized tests. If you want an MBA, you are likely going to take the GMAT, liberal arts programs mostly require the GRE, medical school candidates will need to take the MCAT and law school hopefuls will take the LSAT. Your break is the perfect time to take a study course or the test.
Learn the admissions requirements for the programs you want. Looking to become a physical therapist, know what the physical therapy degree admission requirements are well before hand. Think you want an MBA, learn the types of undergrad classes business schools look for. Goal to be a nurse, learn if an RN to BSN is the best option for you. Learning it now will allow you to carefully plan your approach.
Once you get back to school, your summer internship or graduate school search time might be more limited, so take advantage of your open winter schedule. Be smart, get a head of the game and this summer you will be glad that you did. We don’t know what things will look like for sure summer 2021, but give yourself the option. While others might sit back and wait for everything to fall into place, you can choose to take action – even in the midst of a pandemic.
Updated Dec 5, 2020
There are a number of reasons why recent college grads should consider post grad internships. In a perfect world, you bang out your final exams, graduate, maybe move to a new city, set up your new apartment and start your career at a well-paying job the week after graduation. Well, that idea has been thrown out the window – thanks COVID! For a lot people, post grad internships while we recover from COVID-19 might be the best short-term solution.
An 8-12 week post graduation internship might be a better alternative to taking any unfulfilling full-time job. The best scenario is a paid internship of course, however, if you find a flexible full-time job, you could still intern for 15-20 hours per week at the same time. Overall, the additional internship experience buys you time while you build your resume, look for a job and wait for the economy to bounce back. Doing an internship after college does not mean you’ve given up!
“75 percent of employers report that the primary focus of their internship program was to recruit college graduates for full-time, entry-level positions.”
1. Employers like to hire previous interns
According to a recent National Assocation of Colleges and Employers Survey, 75 percent of employers report that the primary focus of their internship program was to recruit college graduates for full-time, entry-level positions. For employers, the opportunity to work with an intern for a few months is the best way to observe if that person will be a good fit with the company long-term.
For you, internships let you determine if you want to work for the company or in that field. Getting invovled, working on projects and contributing to an employer through an intership is your best chance at showing them why they need to hire you. Be the exceptional intern and you could go from intern to employee before the internship is over.
2. Post grad internships can give you work experience
Post grad internships give you additional work experience. Work experience is the #1 thing employers look for in a new hires. Maybe you’ve heard people say, “how am I supposed to get experience if no one will hire me“, the answer is internships. Employers like to see internship experience because it shows that you have had a chance to apply your classroom knowledge in a real world setting. The classroom, your grade point average and the college you attended can only take you so far. You need to be able to show that you can contribute on the job and learn quickly. Use your internship to gain or improve new hard and soft skills which will make you more marketable.
Consider that in this post COVID-19 world, there are industries that have flondered and others that have flourished. A post grad internship could be the way to enter a different industry that you hadn’t thought of.
3. You’re not excited about your major
When you started your college career you may have been all gung-ho about your major. Somewhere along the way you just lost the excitement you once had. An internship in the field could confirm that you really don’t like it or remind you of why you were excited before. The good/bad thing about an internship is that it is for a set period of time. At the end of 8-12 weeks, if you find that you actually do hate the field, your co-workers or the company, you can leave with no strings attached.
I did eight internships in college. As a public relations major I did internships in business, sales, marketing, public affairs and public relations, in different sectors for companies and organizations of varying sizes. What I learned about myself, the workplace, and the skills I needed for each profession was invaluable! Getting beyond your major could be an eye opening experience for you.
4. Build Your Network
Networking is a major component to finding a job. Some surveys say that up to 85% of people find their jobs though networking. Your network might be bigger than you think when you stop to consider friends, family, fraternity or sorority connections, the university alumni network, religious affiliations and professional organizations. However large or small your network, spending time at an internship provides the opportunity to expand your network.
I recommend doing multiple informational interviews while at your internship to learn about different positions as well as the people in those roles. Networking opportunities can also lead to you meeting and connecting with mentors. Mentors are an incredible resource and you should make an effort to establish a relationships with someone who can be a mentor. The guidance of a mentor could help you clarify where you want to work and what you want to do.
5. Graduate school is expensive
I took two years off between my undergradate and graduate degrees. I thought I knew what I wanted. As graduation grew closer, I only seemed to get more confused about location, law school, grad school, b-school or going straight into the workforce. I returned home to Rochester, NY and landed my first full-time job in college admissions. That two years of work experience helped me gain clarity on my professional and academic goals, pay down some student loan debt and save money for moving to Maryland for graduate school.
In turn, the work experience I gained made getting a graduate assistantship (GA) an easier path for me. I was a GA in the Office of Student Affairs. As a graduate Assistant, my tuition was 100% covered the university in exchange for 15-20 hours of work per week. In addition to my tuition being covered, I was paid $12,000 per year. My graduate assistantship (similar to an internship) allowed me to continue to build my resume, get involved on campus and helped clarify my professional goals. It also saved me about $25,000.
6. Where to find post grad internships
So if you’ve established that a post grad internship might be a good idea, what’s next. There are some companies that have been doing post grad internships for years.
Those are just a few companies offering post grad internships. Check sites like LinkedIn, Indeed, Monster and other job search engines. Also, subscribe to my Diversity Internship Directory, a comprehensive listing of companies looking for diverse interns and new hires. Depending in the industry, it migh be easier post COVID-19 to find an internship over a full-time job.
7. You can perfect your job searching skills
If you can master the internship search process, you will be better at searching for a job. For either purpose, job or internship, you need to put together a well-crafted resume and cover letter. Putting together a superstar level LinkedIn profile is also a necessity in todays competitive work environment. If you have never been on a professional job interview, interviewing for internships can help you gain confidence in your interviewing skills.
Deciding to do an internship post-grad doesn’t mean you just apply for everything you see and hope for the best. Develop a strategy and understand what type of internship you are looking for. What skills do you want to enhance or learn? Is there a particular industry or company you want to work for? Just like your job search, your internship should be focused too. My free Internship and Job Tracker walks you through the steps of getting your internship game plan together.
The key to success is to be proactive. Get your resume together, apply, network, learn new skills, practice interviewing and do an internship. Evaluate what you want and see if it is in line with the skills you bring to the table. It may not happen overnight, but you will breakthrough.
If an internship is not your choice, then jump into your first post graduation job, make a few dollars and understand that it is only the beginning!