In my search for summer internships, I became a professional interviewer, but then still ended up on my parents’ couch for the summer months. There was a mourning period, but then I put all my free time to some seriously productive use.
Here are some tips on how to professionally winning summer, without an internship:
Some company didn’t want you to get their coffee for them? Become the pro.
I was upfront with an up-and-coming children’s author about only being a student, but he recognized my passion and gave me the job anyway. Now I’m doing PR work for his book series as a professional, instead of as a college intern. There are a lot of startup businesses out there and they’re all working on a budget. Figure out what you’re interested in and use resources like oDesk to find people in those industries looking for freelancers in your niche. Unlike many summer internships, you’ll get paid.
Help out a friend
Sure, proofreading isn’t the most fun task ever, but there will be a time when you need someone to proofread something of yours and you’ll have that friend whose blog post you spent an hour editing for their internship. You probably have everlasting free time right now, so pay it forward.
Create an Excel sheet
Go into the next round of summer internship applications as a well-oiled machine. This year, I had a general idea and just applied to places on the fly. Now, for next year, I have a targeted list of places where I want to work, who to contact, and when to do it by. I’ve been scanning PR internship boards for opportunities that were available this summer and, although they’re filled now, I already have most of the research out of the way for next summer.
Since you’re reading this, you’re already surely doing this step correctly. Don’t limit your reading to professional development blogs. They’re helpful, but the places you’ll expand your vocabulary are more likely in that paranormal romance book you’re slightly ashamed to be reading, but are wholeheartedly enjoying nonetheless. Or, maybe that poetry book you forgot you bought for half price. Currently, I am reading about the kabbalah, because why not? Readers are the best writers.
Pick up a new hobby
Fun fact about my collegiate career: I am double majoring in public relations and French, with a minor in not marketing or digital media, but scuba diving. Why, you may ask? I love it and that should be enough, but also you literally never know what is going to be that binding tether you create with a future employer to set you apart from your competition.
One time I was hired because my interviewer and I were both reading the same book. I was also qualified, but she and I clicked on that one topic and the rest of the interview went seamlessly. That’s how I see the scuba diving theory playing out. A future interviewer opening up with, “I see you minored in scuba diving! I just got back from the Great Reef!” It ends with me rolling in piles of money, or happiness, or hopefully both.
Update your web presence
You know that online portfolio your internship coordinator is always hounding you to create? Do it! While I am still in the process of completing this aspect of my advice, I have already learned some basic coding, new website platforms, and other goodies I can add to my skills on my resume. Even better, I will also have a stellar online portfolio at the end of it. It’s like learning with benefits.
Realize this may be your last summer
Granted, the seasons will always change and if you live in the Midwest like me, then your hair will always experience the hardships of humidity. However, this may be your last summer break for the next 40 years—live it up! Moping about your lack of focus this summer is a narrow-minded perspective because there are so many things you can be focusing on without an internship. The scuba diving theory could even be hiding in that music festival you’ve always wanted to go to!
Have some of your own advice for Levo Ladies who didn’t land their ideal summer internship? Share with us in the comments!
Ask Levo Mentor Caroline Everett, senior manager of brand campaign strategy at Birchbox, her advice for handling the job search when you didn’t make it this summer.