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So You Can’t Get a Summer Internship, Now What?

As final papers, projects, and exams are submitted, a collective sigh of relief is let out by college students everywhere. The school year is finally over, and with the summer ahead of us, we can relax and enjoy our time off – or so we think. 


In reality, college students are never really given time off; there is the expectation that summer will be spent with an internship of some sort that is related to your major or future career. While under normal circumstances – not this ongoing pandemic – it would be easier to find an internship, in-person opportunities have been limited, and internships that have been moved online have limited space. 


This leaves many students stressed out and feeling like they are behind their peers in gaining the necessary experiences, skills, and connections that come from an internship, which help to one day secure a job. As someone who is currently in this position, it has taken me a lot of time to get over this mindset, and to accept that just because I don’t have an internship, doesn’t mean that I am behind. 


There are so many more things that you can do with your summer that are still considered productive, and I thought I would share some things that you can do with your summer if you don’t have an internship.


Find a Job


Getting a job is probably the most common thing for college students to do over the summer if they don’t have an internship. Not only can you make significantly more money over the summer at a job than at an unpaid internship, but it also helps you gain work experience. 


/ Unsplash

Employers are almost always looking for new potential employees, and any job you have, whether directly related to your future career or not, is helpful. I have been working summer jobs since I was 16, and I have gained vital skills in both customer service and time management, which are applicable to a variety of future careers that I am looking into. 


My favorite part about having a summer job is the structure it brings, which I feel I would desperately miss without school. If you are feeling discouraged about not having an internship, consider applying for a summer job, you won’t regret it.

Summer School


Another thing I would recommend is taking a summer course to get ahead. Last summer when I had no internship, I took an accounting course that I needed for my major. While it was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done, it was extremely helpful and made my course load for the next year much easier. 


Person using laptop
Photo by Mikayla Mallek from Unsplash

By taking a class through Penn State or a community college, you are being productive and getting ahead which may help you feel like you are doing something. The one thing I will say about summer courses is that they can be expensive so be careful about which ones you take. Otherwise, I think summer courses are a great way to be productive over the summer. 


Try Something New


The last thing I would recommend doing over the summer if you can’t get an internship is to teach yourself a new skill. I tried to teach myself how to code last summer – I did so online, using Codecademy. While I wasn’t able to completely teach myself, it gave me something to work towards. By taking the summer to enhance your skills in other areas that could be applicable to your future job, you are setting yourself up for success and teaching yourself things that an internship couldn’t necessarily teach you. 


My friends have gotten certified in excel and have been able to put it on their resume, which has attracted some recruiters. A lot of the skill-training programs online are free, and they’re a great way to take up time in a productive way. I would totally recommend taking a look online and seeing what programs you can find that will help you enhance your skill set if you are looking for something to occupy your time.


Planner, Open, Pens, Tombow, Weekly, Spread
rayedigitaldesigns / Pixabay

While internships are important and it can be discouraging not to have one, it doesn’t mean that you are behind and that you can’t still be productive this summer. Hopefully next summer will be back to normal and there will be more internship opportunities available, but for now, you will find me on Codecademy once again attempting to teach myself how to code. 


That is all I have for now, happy summer collegiettes!

Reese Bernstein is a junior at Penn State majoring in Psychology with a focus in business. She is from "right outside" of DC in Northern Virginia. Along with writing for Her Campus, Reese is a member of a sorority and occasionally goes to the gym when feeling motivated.
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