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VOL. 44 | NO. 21 | Friday, May 22, 2020

No internship? Here’s how to salvage your summer

Updated 9:29AM
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This pandemic could not come at a worse time for those of you in the middle of your college education.

You’re trying to build your resume to improve your employment odds after graduation. And you’re going to need one with all of those student loans you’ll have to pay back. One way to do this is often through summer internships. But, the number of internships being cut is astonishing.

I had the opportunity of four internships when I was in college, the first two with General Motors. Then came Westinghouse and another with the Boys and Girls Clubs. Each gave me experience and set me apart from my peers.

But I was less lucky in graduate school. I studied for my MBA during a time when the job market wasn’t great. There weren’t as many internships available, and the ones that were often expected you to work for free.

So, I ended up not doing an internship during my MBA studies.

What are you to do if you have found yourself without an internship this summer?

Look for other ways to stand out. What else can you do with your summer that could be included on your resume?

There are, for example, opportunities to tutor other students online. Could you take additional courses? Perhaps you could volunteer to help a professor at your school with some of their research. Maybe you could teach yourself how to use a new kind of software.

Perhaps you could volunteer to be an intern for a company. This idea might work with a company that can’t afford to hire you but is open to your help. I know this isn’t an option for everyone, but consider it if it is.

Any of the ideas above will give you something that you can include on your resume. Speaking of your resume, this is the perfect time to work on yours. There are many tutorials online about how to craft a resume. And, while you’re at it, set up your LinkedIn profile.

Another tactic I love is called informational interviewing. Informational interviews aren’t job interviews but networking meetings that allow you to chat with a professional about the work they do.

For example, if you’re studying computer programming, you might reach out to someone who is a computer scientist and ask them if they are willing to chat with you about their job. Many companies have slowed down, so there are some professionals who have extra time right now.

Whatever you do, try to keep your head up. I know this is tough. I graduated with a computer engineering degree just as the dot-com crash happened. I thought things would never get better.

But, keep pushing ahead. Someday things will improve and you want to put yourself in the best position to succeed then.

Angela Copeland, a career expert and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at copelandcoaching.com.

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