Four Alternatives to the Summer Internship

It’s that time of the year again: We’re all scrambling to get our application materials in for a series of summer internship applications. Applying in a normal year is stressful enough, but with thanks to COVID-19 changing many aspects of our lives (and the availability of internships), the process has become even more challenging and intimidating. However, even if you don’t score the internship, there are plenty of valuable ways to spend your time. I’m here to set your mind at ease and provide tips on how you can make the most of your summer without an internship.

You may be worried because you haven’t heard back from an organization yet, or because you did hear back and it wasn’t what you wanted. Maybe it got cancelled. No matter where you’re coming from or why you don’t have summer plans, don’t worry! You’re not behind the eight ball yet. There are several ways to develop the necessary skills and gain experience in a particular industry, even if you’re stuck in your childhood bedroom. Depending on your time and motivation, you can throw all your efforts into one avenue of professional development, or work on all of them throughout the summer.


This provides an opportunity to develop the skills and competencies needed in your career community and can be added to your resume. For example, even general community service can be a great way to build teamwork, leadership, and communication skills. If you have the opportunity to volunteer for something a bit more specific, like working at a hospital or clinic if you’re interested in healthcare, even better! COVID-19 might make entering a hospital a little hard, but vaccine clinics or crisis centers are also looking for extra hands.

Learn a new skill

This might be an opportunity to take that programming class or learn a new language. There are plenty of free online resources, from YouTube to Duolingo to Coursera. The Greene Center has also curated a list of courses, trainings, and learning opportunities. Different career paths look for different skills, and once you know what your desired industry wants, you can scour the internet for services to help you improve. Maybe you use a resource that doesn’t lend itself to an extra line on your resume, but hang on! It’s still valuable: when you do score a job or internship, you’ll be able to impress your supervisors with technical skills that you developed without formal positions.


This is an opportunity to utilize LinkedIn and the Meliora Collective to seek out opportunities and employers. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for informational interviews, as you never know what advice you’ll get, or where those initial contacts might lead. If you ask politely, you’ll be amazed at how eager alumni are to share their knowledge. You can also gain insight to a particular industry and get advice as to how to improve your chances of getting an internship.

Prepare for the next application cycle

You can use the summer to prepare for the next round of applications. What were you missing last time? Maybe your wording didn’t display your skills as clearly as it could have. This summer, you have the opportunity to do your research on how to craft applications that put you in the best light. You also have time time to get them done early, which can improve your chances for programs or jobs with rolling admissions. Look back at what skills or competencies you were missing and use this time to develop them. Researching the company can also provide information on what the work environment is like, and what previous applicants have said about the position. Finally, you can also use your summer to practice and improve on your interview skills with online tools like Quinncia. Practice makes perfect and the more time you spend feeling comfortable in a high-stress interview, the better your chances of knocking it out of the park when the real one comes up.

If you want to find out more about summer opportunities, particularly for you industry, make sure to schedule a one-on-one appointment with an advisor via Handshake. You can also stop by or join our Slack channel. Remember, there’s more than one way to make the most of your summer!

By Keisha Barrera ('22)
Keisha Barrera ('22) Peer Career Advisor