No Summer Plans Yet? Here's What To Do

Back in high school, getting a summer job was often as simple as filling out a few applications and getting your cousin to put in a good word for you at the Juice Shop. Unfortunately, those days are over. With a weak job market and increasingly tough competition for coveted internships, landing summer employment can be a stressful process, to say the least. “The most agonizing part is waiting,” says Madeline, a junior at Emerson College. “Sometimes I don't think internship coordinators understand that people like me check our emails every 10 seconds to see if we're accepted or not.”

So if you haven’t found a summer job or internship yet and you’re starting to stress, you’re not alone. More importantly: don’t give up yet. “May is not too late,” says Suzanne Dagger, director of career services at Hofstra University. “There are still opportunities to be found.” Read on to find out how you can (still) snag the perfect summer gig.   

Use your campus career center

If you haven’t gotten familiar with your university’s friendly career service employees yet, now is the time. Companies know that college campuses are full of eager students with free time in the summer, so it’s often one of the first places they’ll go to help them fill a temporary position—and May isn’t too late to be looking. “Some employers do realize at a last minute that they still need summer help,” says Donna Goldfelder, director of career services at Lehigh University. “Keep checking your university or college's job posting system because these ‘just in time’ employers will still post there.” 

Career centers can offer opportunities and resources that you can’t get once you graduate, so be sure to take advantage while you’re still a student. “Many college campuses have joined up with [a website that posts internship openings and other internship resources],” says Dagger. “You can get full access to that site through the career center.” 

Aside from your university’s job board, keep scouring other job sites (such as, and for last-minute postings. While most deadlines have passed, there’s still a chance for opportunities to pop up. 

For more tips on how to effectively use your campus career center, check out this article

Network, network, network

When many summer jobs and internships have already been filled, there’s no better way to find out what’s left (and increase your chances of getting it) than by talking to everyone you know. “Networking will get you in touch with smaller companies that will not post positions, but will have needs pop up,” says Tom Dezell, author of Networking for the Novice, Nervous, or Naive Job Seeker. Of course, it’s always important to network, but reaching out is extra helpful when it’s late in the game. “Mid-May of last year, I lucked out through some networking,” says Ramsay, a senior at Smith College. “I was told of a last-minute opening in Penguin's internship program via Facebook chat and snagged an interview while studying abroad. A week later I flew home, and six days later I was working in New York City for the summer.” 

Don’t limit your networking search to a few previous employers and family members, either. The more people you talk to, the better chance you’ll have of finding something. Everyone you know should be aware you’re looking for employment: family members, neighbors, even friends or classmates who’ve had good internships in the past. Seek out anyone you have a connection to who works in the field you’re interested in. “Reach out; don't be shy,” says Dezell. “These people would love help if they can. Unfortunately, too many students are too prideful or afraid to ask.” This also includes reconnecting with any professors who know you personally. Not only do they have great connections, but they’ve seen you work in a classroom setting. “Faculty can really advocate for you in ways that a career center may not be able to,” says Dagger. 

And of course, there’s LinkedIn—one of the most important networking sources out there. If you don’t have a profile yet, there’s no better time than right now. Once you’ve got your profile, use the site for more than posting your resume. “Develop a profile and join any alumni or association groups as well,” says Dezell. "Start a discussion that you are seeking internship or summer work and ask for any guidance.” 

Want to know more about how to successfully network? Click here and here


Laura is a senior (class of 2011) at UNC-Chapel Hill, majoring in Journalism and French. She spent two years writing for her campus newspaper and interned at USA Weekend Magazine in D.C. this summer. She is also a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority and recently spent a semester studying abroad in the south of France. Besides reading and writing, she loves being outdoors (particularly hiking and backpacking, ideally in the N.C. mountains), traveling, coffee, and attempting to play the guitar and/or ukulele. Her major life goals include learning to salsa dance and swimming with manatees. Though the thought of entering the real world still terrifies her a little bit, she plans to pursue a career in the magazine or publishing industries.

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