No summer internship? Do this instead

So you didn’t get a summer internship. Bummer. However, don’t despair! There are alternatives to an internship that you can pursue if your goal is to gain some valuable experience and give your career a boost. By doing nothing, you are missing out on a great opportunity to develop yourself. The key is to do something. Out of inspiration? Take a look at the list below!


1. Find (freelance) work at a company that doesn’t offer formal internships

Alright, the companies that -do- offer formal summer internships probably start their internship programs in June. However, there are lots of companies that don’t regularly advertise summer internships, but that could still use a hand. These are probably smaller companies, which is actually an advantage: you face less competition, and if you get in, you usually get more responsibility from the get-go. How to find such a company? First, think of the industry you want to work in. Then, make a list of companies you want to reach out to. Once you have your list, look up people who work there on LinkedIn and send them a message. The template in this article works wonders. Try it for yourself!


2. Complete a project-based ‘micro internship’

You might not be able to find a ‘full’ internship lasting several months. However, you might be able to find a so-called micro internship. These are projects that usually last about a week. Although they don’t necessarily offer payment, they give you a great opportunity to get actual experience and have something to show for it at the end. Examples of micro internships include writing articles for a company’s blog, identifying sales leads, or performing a small market study. Micro internships can usually be done remotely. If you don’t like the work, it doesn’t last long. And the best part? You can do multiple micro internships throughout your summer and gain a lot of work experience!


3. Get a local summer job

Now that covid regulations are slowly being lifted, many seasonal industries and local businesses are picking things up again, and they might need short-term workers. While this might not fit your ideal image of work experience, don’t underestimate the things you can learn in this type of work. At the very least, it will show that you have developed a great work ethic. Many of the skills gained in these jobs can be transferred to typical office jobs. Why don’t you just walk in with your resume? You never know what might come of it.


4. Assist a researcher

Consider helping a professor or researcher at your school or university. For example, if that professor writes papers and books, you could help them with background research, proofreading, fact-checking, or transcribing. Most likely, landing such projects requires you to reach out to people proactively. Once again, use the template mentioned in this article.


5. Set up your own independent project

This requires a bit of creativity. Is there something, anything, you could do that would teach you valuable skills in the project? Could you do freelance work? Could you set up your own company, even if it’s just temporary? Could you write articles? Could you conduct research? Is there personal creative work that you could pursue? Lots of things to do and all of them could help you learn and grow your skillset!


6. Do online coursework

Nowadays, the supply of massive open online classes (MOOCs) is almost endless. Some of these are free and most of them can be taken anytime, at your own pace. EdX is one of the platforms that offer these classes.


7. Volunteer

Nonprofits don’t necessarily have the funds to pay an entry-level worker or summer intern, but they often need volunteers. The work itself can range from talking to potential donors and encouraging them to give money to working on marketing campaigns to spreading awareness about a particular initiative. If you care about the cause personally, this can be very fulfilling work.


8. Job shadow

Interested in a certain kind of job theoretically but unclear what it would actually mean to do it in practice? You might benefit from seeing for yourself. Consider reaching out to people through LinkedIn and expect to be turned down a couple of times, but this can be an amazing way of learning about a job while building your professional network.


As you see, there are lots of things to do. Pick one or several and get after them! Don’t waste your summer. Rather, give your career a massive boost by investing in yourself.