It’s almost the end of the semester. Spring break is in the rearview mirror and you’re about to kick-off that last push towards finals. With everything else that’s been going on in your life, it’s easy to understand that sometimes things get lost in the shuffle—like looking for a summer internship. Oops? But your summer isn’t a lost cause quite yet. Here’s what to do if you’ve left looking for that summer internship until the very last minute.
It’s going to take some work
Okay, so maybe you missed the deadlines to apply for a few of those internships you were thinking about. Or maybe you put all your eggs in one basket and banked on a getting an internship that just didn’t work out. Whatever the reason, the fact is that starting to look later in the semester will be a little more difficult. “It will require more simultaneous work on your part,” says Laura Craig, Associate Director of Career Development at the Temple University Career Center. “That could include developing your professional brand and materials like a resume, researching industries and organizations, creating internship applications, and attending employer events.” It’s a lot to take on all at once, but it can pay off if you snag a great internship. Keep an eye on your campus’s Career Services job board if they have one or spend some quality time with online resources like internships.com. Not all internship applications operate on set deadlines and new postings get added every day. If you know what you’re looking for and have your resume polished up, it could just be a matter of keeping an eye out for the right posting to come along.
Mine your connections
You also don’t have to start from scratch. “Don’t struggle alone,” Craig says. “Start with your campus resources – faculty, academic advisors and your career services office.” You can also turn to the people you know well. Marketing professional Mara Hyman suggests that last-minute-internship hunters should “put together a list of the family friends, mentors, distant cousins, anyone you know working in your industries of choice, and reach out to them about summer volunteer opportunities.” For Hyman, this strategy was successful: “I ended up finding an internship not because one was posted for the company, but because I had worked with an organization in high school whose team happened to need assistance that summer.” You never know when someone you know will have some good suggestions – or even a job for you!
Networking is also key as the summer gets closer. Craig explains that networking “can take many forms ranging from identifying and contacting alumni on LinkedIn to reaching out to personal contacts, or meeting people at events.” If you’re new to networking, looking for an internship can be a great way to practice before you need to use those skills out in the real world. It also gives you a chance to build connections that you can turn to for your next internship or when you’re looking for a full-time job.
Job-hunting doesn’t always go perfectly. If you’re striking out looking in your particular field of interest, it might be time to think outside the box a little. Keep an eye out for positions that will let you work remotely or consider broadening your search to other fields where you might still get to do similar work. Smaller businesses with less competitive internship programs are great places to look for work. Maybe you missed the deadline to apply for that internship with a big marketing firm, but you can still get your feet wet in a marketing internship for a local company or nonprofit organization. With a smaller company, there’s also a good chance you’ll be given more to do. Look to community theaters, summer camps, your old favorite stores. As Hyman puts it, “Opportunities can pop up in the most unlikely of places, so don’t give up!”
Internships aren’t everything
If all else fails, a regular job is always a solid option. It’s better to have something on your resume, even if it isn’t directly related to your future career. Retail or food service might not be glamorous but you’ll have plenty of stories to tell in interviews about how you work with others and resolve conflict. According to Craig, “there are many opportunities to build skills that are important to employers—communication skills, leadership, ability to take initiative and ability to solve problems among others. It’s acquiring those skills and articulating how you used them in your experiences that impresses employers.”
In the end, the most important thing to avoid spending the summer on sitting on the couch. So get out there and start looking! And maybe don’t leave it all until the last minute next year.