Scrolling through your LinkedIn to see what seems like every person you know post about their summer internship can be draining and demotivating when you still have not received any offers. After hours of curating cover letters and researching companies that match your career aspirations, many of us are currently facing the disappointment of hearing nothing back.
However, if you find yourself without an internship opportunity this summer, remember there are many other ways to fill your time and energy in the months before the next semester.
One of the most obvious things to do during the summer, if you could use extra cash, is to work a job. Whether on campus or back in your hometown, working in the restaurant or retail industries could be one solution. On top of that, future employers may like to see customer service experience and time management skills from working in these environments.
Freelance work is also available for students who want a more flexible work schedule. There are many sites that are looking for those with strong writing, marketing or coding skills to develop websites, create advertisements or write content. This is a way to add value to your resume and improve your skills in your career field.
Universities, like our own, might offer paid and unpaid research opportunities for students in a variety of fields both during the school year and over the summer. Working with a professional in your major's department could be a way to network and grow closer with a mentor as well as gain useful experience with research and data.
The summer is also the perfect time to take care of and work on yourself.
Chapel Hill and Carrboro have ample organizations that need volunteers. Choose a cause that you care about and get more involved in the community with the extra free time on your hands. This will give you the chance to work closely with a non-profit and get experience in industries that suit your career interests.
By taking a summer class either through UNC or with your local community college, you can finish checking off your general education requirements or get a head start on classes for your major next semester. Some majors require you to take five rigorous classes a semester to graduate on time, so taking a class or two during time off could take some weight off your shoulders going into the school year. It's worth noting that summer classes, especially at UNC, can be a bit expensive, as they charge by the credit hour.
It might also be beneficial to take a class beyond your studies, just for fun. Whether it’s an art or foreign language course, you can use summer to expand your skillset and learn about more unconventional topics.
Studying abroad is also a chance to explore the world while adding credit hours to your transcript. UNC offers many programs directly through the school as well as affiliate companies which can all be found on the study abroad website. There are advisors who can help students with planning their trips and steps to receiving scholarship money, if needed.
Your interests don’t need to be academic, though. Spend your time traveling with friends, family or by yourself. Pick up a hobby you have always wanted to try but never had time to during the school year. Start practicing yoga, learn how to crochet, build a new thrifted wardrobe, write the first pages of your memoir, watch every A24 movie — the possibilities are endless.
Investing in your identity capital, or the collection of your individual experiences, is crucial during your early 20s. You should be able to talk about yourself beyond your job experience and career qualifications. Can you think of a story or something you’ve done that would make you memorable to a recruiter? Building an identity capital will make you more appealing as an interviewee and help you feel more in touch with your own true self.
We have enough anxiety and expectations to meet as students during the school year. The summer should be a time to enjoy yourself, have unique experiences and work on who you are as an individual. Not to mention, this chapter of your life could add to your resume or give interesting talking points in an interview to separate you from the applicant pool during the next round of internship opportunities.
Soak up the sun and make the most of one of your last summer breaks as an undergraduate student!
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