Ahhh, summer. Time to throw on your NBA Jam tank, bask in the sunshine (unless you live in San Francisco like me, and succumb to fog for a good part of June-August), and enjoy your favorite smoothie.
I strongly encourage all of the above. However, I am also a big advocate for being intentional and making the most of your summer break. This is The Intern Hustle, and yes I think internships are a fantastic way to maximize your summer. (Back in February I shared some tips on how you can try and land a summer internship late in the game.)
But what happens if you now find yourself headed into summer without an internship? Believe it or not, it’s not the end of the world. It actually opens up a world of possibility. There are a number of other ways you can wisely spend your summer without an internship. I’m sharing six of them with you below.
1. Start pursuing internship opportunities for next summer >> Now
I know next summer seems like a long ways off (twelve months to be exact), but that is precisely why you should start your internship search now. Use the time this summer to your advantage. Prepare and get ahead of the curve.
You will be steps ahead of your peers in the hunt for internships. More time to research opportunities = more time to discover awesome opportunities you may have otherwise overlooked. Add some informational interviews into the mix, and learn about specific industries, companies and roles that interest you.
You have the time to get intentional about self-development. Once you know what internships you’re excited about, focus your attention on developing the necessary skills that will make you a stronger and more qualified candidate.
You will be one of the first to submit your internship applications (once they start accepting them again), because you will already have your resume, cover letters and applications ready to go. This also gives you a greater window to follow-up and create even more touch points with a potential employer, demonstrating your initiative and helping you stand out in a sea of applications.
2. Shadow a professional or assist your professor with a research project
Job shadowing or doing research for a professor are a couple adjunct activities that you can tack on to your summer without an internship. Both are great ways to prioritize your learning and build relationships.
Leverage some of the extra time on your hands (maybe in between researching internship opportunities) and seek out individuals you can learn from, that align to your professional interests and goals.
A lot of professors remain on campus throughout the summer to lead summer classes, and many of them are conducting some form of research. It’s also likely that there are a few family friends in your network that would be open to having you job shadow a few times this summer.
Finding someone you can learn from isn’t the hard part. Approaching them in a thoughtful and respectful way is where you need to put in a little effort. Emails inquiring about research or shadow opportunities should be professional, concise and follow the general guidelines below:
- Briefly introduce who you are (this will vary depending on how well you know the person, but should include information like where you attend school, your year in school and your major)
- State your interest in what they do (demonstrate that you’ve done your research on them and be specific)
- Communicate any relevant experience you have and attach a copy of your current resume (if you don’t have any relevant experience yet, explain why this opportunity is important for your professional goals)
- Ask to schedule a call or a meeting to further discuss the potential opportunity (provide them a few options of your availability to encourage action, but remain flexible to their schedule)
3. Get ahead (or catch up) on coursework with summer classes
Taking summer classes can be a very productive use of your summer without an internship. And it’s also a great option if you’re already on campus assisting a professor with some research work (see what I did there?).
Even if you aren’t working with a professor, the traditionally lighter summer class load makes it easy to balance class and a part-time job. And in pay-it-forward style, the summer credits could also benefit future you if you decide to take a lighter-credit schedule in the fall.
Now chances are if you’re just reading this now, at the beginning of summer, the time to enroll in summer classes has already come and gone. However, some schools have multiple summer terms and you may still be able to enroll in classes toward the latter part of the summer. Doesn’t hurt to check your options, if it is something you are considering.
4. Work a summer job or volunteer your time
Probably the most straightforward of options on this list, but if you find yourself without an internship you can still add some valuable job and volunteer experience to your resume.
While any job is better than sitting around twiddling your thumbs all summer, I encourage you to be intentional with what you choose to do. What summer jobs can offer you relevant experience that will look good on your resume?
For example, I spent a couple of my summers home from college working as a Fitness Floor Trainer at a local health club. The responsibilities I carried out at this job, and the overall environment I was surrounded by, preconditioned me for the sports performance internships I hoped to apply for in the future.
Same goes for volunteering, find opportunities that align with your goals. A great place to start, is looking up the types of charitable causes your dream company is already involved with. Seek ways to get involved with the same causes. It will give you a great conversation starter in the future when you’re at an internship interview with said, dream company.
5. Travel and gain some new perspective
Your travel doesn’t have to be anything extreme or expensive. Just find ways to change up your routine a bit, and soak up the exposure to new environments. This is one of the most enjoyable ways to maximize your summer without an internship.
Road trips and camping (or as I prefer, glamping) are a great way to travel on the cheap. And there is nothing like a good dose of the great outdoors to help hit the reset button after a challenging series of final exams.
I also enthusiastically recommend international travel. If you happen to have the time and financial freedom to do it…do it. This wasn’t the case for me while I was in college, but I’ve taken many international trips since graduating and I can’t get enough of the new perspective that each cultural experience brings.
One smart way to maximize the international travel and stay over there for as long as possible – study abroad programs. Just do a google search and you’ll get a long list of options. There are so many companies specializing in great study abroad opportunities, and most of them do the logistical heavy lifting for you.
6. Soak up alllll the learning
Just because class is out of session for the summer, doesn’t mean you should stop learning. If you have a summer internship, learn as much as you can on the job. If you’re headed into summer without an internship, the best kind of learning is the kind that you get to define on your own terms.
First identify: What are you passionate about? What areas would you like to develop in over the next year? Who do you respect and want to learn more from? Is there a specific skill you want to learn, or a project you want to start?
Then, seek out the best ways to absorb as much information as possible. Books are an obvious resource (and a solid one). Podcasts are exploding onto the scene with every topic imaginable. Online courses allow you to learn a new skill or concept at your own pace, and in record time. There is so much good information out there, you just have to look for it.
I crave learning. I will forever be a student (of many things). For one of my favorite podcasts, sure to inspire you, check out The School of Greatness with Lewis Howes.
Whether you have an internship this summer, or this is your summer without an internship, I want to hear what you’re up to. Let me know in the comments below!