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How to Have a Productive Summer (Without an Internship)

As the semester comes to an end and summer break approaches, more and more people book their months off with weeks-long summer internships or programs. For many college students, the months leading up to the summer can be very stressful– applying for dozens of internships, waiting for callbacks from recruiters, preparing for interviews, and then waiting again for a decision. 

COVID-19 has radically changed opportunities for students to have access to internship experiences. If you were late to the recruitment process or simply didn’t land a summer job or internship in your desired industry, do not fret! You can have a rewarding summer break by exploring local opportunities that can help you get ahead. Below are five ways you can make productive use of your summer if you don’t have any professional plans!

Volunteer in Local Community

Although volunteering won’t get you paid during the summer, you’ll still be able acquire critical skills while giving back to your community. There are plenty of local, regional, and national non-profits, schools, or organizations that would be happy to get an extra set of hands. Usually, many of them need additional help with accounting, marketing, design, and social media assistance. These are all transferable skills you can build to support your future career endeavors.

Enroll in Classes 

In the wake of the pandemic last summer, dozens of summer internships were cut. That was the case for me, and instead of frantically searching for less than ideal jobs, I decided to register for three classes at my state college. It was a great experience! Not only did it keep me busy during long summer days, but it also allowed me to acquire general college credit that counted towards my graduation requirement AND my credit for my major. Community colleges and state colleges typically offer summer classes that are open to visiting students. Tuition at community colleges are definitely less expensive, however state colleges may offer a wider array of classes.

Offer Tutoring Services

Not only does tutoring get you some extra money for the summer, the job is also self-employed which means a lot of flexibility and convenience. You can decide how many people you want to tutor and organize your schedule around your personal commitments, resulting in a better work-life balance. Tutoring also reinforces your own knowledge and techniques as you experiment with different learning styles, so tutoring not only helps your students develop, but you, too.

Find Mentors and Grow Your Network

Besides tutoring younger students, you might also consider dedicating time to seek advisors, mentors, and future employers. Learning how to communicate and connect with a variety of people takes practice– yet these are essential skills that you can take with you anywhere in your career. To build your networking schedule, conduct research on people whose interests match yours in your desired field; create a list of people you’d like to have a conversation with and begin sending out initial email outreaches. Alternatively, browse through LinkedIn and start connecting and cold-messaging alumni or recruiters!

Learn and Hone a New Skill

Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn Python or maybe you’ve been thinking about picking up that guitar that's collecting dust in the corner of your dorm. Whether it’s learning a new language or teaching yourself to play an instrument, you can always allot time to focus on skill development. Be sure to build a structured learning schedule, set goals, and document your progress along the way. 


And if all else fails, it’s ok to cry (lol jk).

Liya is a sophomore at Colby College from New Jersey majoring in Econ-Finance, minoring in Cinema Studies and East Asian Studies. Besides writing for HC, she's involved in Colby Consulting Group, Finance Committee, Asian Students Association, and The Pequod. You will likely spot her people-watching with her friends in the Spa or napping on Miller Lawn in 60 degrees weather! Currently, her latest obsession is a cuppa' oat-milk iced matcha latte :)
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