Careers

4 things to do if you don't have a summer internship yet

Kenneth Parcell, character on NBC's "30 Rock" played by Jack McBrayer, loves being an intern.
Kenneth Parcell, character on NBC's "30 Rock" played by Jack McBrayer, loves being an intern.

Between late night study sessions, finals and moving off campus, the months leading up to summer can be stressful when you're a college student.

If you didn't land a summer job or internship in the industry you're pursuing, don't worry. Career experts say you still have multiple options that can help you get ahead.

Here are four ways to have a rewarding summer and still build your resume:

1. Take whatever job you can find and focus on the skills you learn

If you are lucky enough to land a job, even if it's totally unrelated to what you want to do, take it. Focus on the skills you plan to gain and highlight on your resume, experts say.

Take a pre-med student, for example, who works as a camp counselor. According to Kim Jarvis, director of career coaching and education at SoFi, the experience can still be relevant, so long as he or she highlights the relevant skills on his or her resume.

"Focus on the empathy you gained while helping kids navigate a new experience," Jarvis says, "your proactive approach to keeping kids safe and healthy."

Or consider a marketing student who's working as a waitress, who can highlight how she learned a number of skills in coordinating complicated projects.

"Waitresses need to show attention to detail and customer service," says 26-year-old Google alumni and CEO of WayUp, Liz Wessel. "As long as you can convey the skills you developed, these roles can actually propel your career forward."

2. Set up an informational interview

Ask a professional you look up to out for coffee. It's a great way to connect with someone who could give you career advice or insight into the field you want to break into.

Ask your parents, friends or professors if they know someone in the industry who you could email and invite for a quick meeting. You could also try sending a cold email — there's a good chance you'll get a response.

"Reach out to your list of contacts for informational interviews to learn more about their experience, gain feedback on your situation and learn what you can do to prepare yourself for future internship applications," says Jarvis.

Keep track of these contacts and what you learned in one place, like a spreadsheet, the career expert recommends.

3. Volunteer

While you won't get paid to volunteer, you can still learn important skills.

"No matter what your major is, you're likely to find that a local non-profit would be happy to get additional support," Jarvis says. She notes that many companies need extra help with accounting, marketing, graphic design and social media strategy.

"Internship or volunteer experience shows you're eager to learn," says MaryJo Fitzgerald, Glassdoor community expert "and can build skills that transfer back to your desired career."

4. Take a course online or at a local college

Career experts say that taking a class online or at a local university is a great way to show future employers you're interested in a subject.

It'll also help bolster your resume, according to Blair Decembrele, career expert at LinkedIn.

"Regardless of whether or not you have an internship," says Decembrele, "summer is a great time for students to explore areas outside of the classroom that they may be interested in pursuing."

Some online courses to consider are those offered on EdX, Coursera, LinkedIn Learning or specific sites like Code Academy.

No matter what you end up doing this summer, focus on how you will communicate these skills on your resume. Using data to demonstrate your achievements is even better.

"If you were a camp counselor, you can explain that you 'launched the first division-wide soccer tournament for 150 children, the largest event of the summer,'" she says. "Or if you were a waitress, talk about how you 'waited on 65 tables each week, the most of anyone on the staff.'"

Here's to finding a good position this summer — don't forget to relax.

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