No Internship? No Problem.
Posted by Liz Seasholtz on May 3, 2011
You’ve heard it before: An internship is the key to gaining invaluable real-world experience and getting your foot in the gilded doors of leading companies.
You may have heard it a million times, but you still don’t have an internship lined up for this summer. For whatever reason—maybe you missed the deadline for a key internship, or maybe you botched your interviews—you’re summer will be spent sans internship.
Well, chin up; your career is not doomed. There are plenty of ways to build your resume with an array of experiences and activities beyond the standard internship.
1. Lend a Hand
Joining a worthwhile cause can brighten any resume—plus, it’s a great networking activity. Pick projects that align your professional passions. Consider organizing a charity event or leading a volunteer group. If you’re super-ambitious, show it by initiating your own project or group. Nonprofits typically can’t afford to pay interns, but they’re always looking for new volunteers. Search municipal and county websites for local organizations, or check sites like VolunteerMatch.org and Idealist.org.
2. Learn A New Tongue
Knowing another language is an impressive qualification that makes any candidate more marketable, particularly in our increasingly global society. Languages like Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese, Russian, and Arabic are high in demand for international business and the federal government. Spanish is also valuable in a variety of fields, such as human resources and social work. Consider signing up for classes at a local community college during the summer.
3. Get High-Tech
Learning relevant computer programs could add great value to your current skill set. An art major, for example, could make himself a more attractive candidate by gaining a working knowledge of Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Dreamweaver, or Flash/Flash Action Script. (Even a working knowledge of Microsoft Excel could push one applicant ahead of another.) But remember: You should be able to demonstrate the skills listed on your resume on day one, so skimming The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Adobe Photoshop won’t cut it.
4. Start a Startup
Even if it’s just Betsy’s Babysitting Service or Larry’s Lawn Care, starting a grassroots business shows entrepreneurial drive, organizational skills, and a go-getter attitude that appeals to employers—especially if you’ve managed employees or made a steady profit, with the figures to prove it.
5. Seek Out a Mentor
Sure, you might feel like you suck up to your professors enough during the school year, but offering to help for a summer project allows you to build a relationship with someone with valuable life experiences and connections in your desired industry. Plus, you might learn something new about yourself or discover a new interest.
6. Get a Job
If you can’t snag your ideal internship, getting a part-time job in a related field can help build your resume so you’re more qualified the next time around. For instance, finance and accounting majors can benefit from holding positions as bank tellers, and nutrition majors can familiarize with dietetics by working in hospital cafeterias. By immersing yourself in the industry you’re interested in, you can get into the trenches and make important contacts.
7. Be a Leader
Student organizations are a great way to build people skills and gain leadership experience before you get out in the working world. A journalism major, for example, can get a feel for the publishing world and published clips by writing or editing for the school newspaper. A student majoring in political science can benefit from being involved in the student government or a political organization on campus.