Stories + Advice

Making the Most of an Internless Summer

Image of a notebook with hand writing. A smartphone that displays "stay at home" on the screen

Many of you have worked tremendously hard and devoted countless hours to secure your summer internship and then: enter COVID-19. Now what?

First and foremost: This is not about you. It’s way bigger than that. Companies are not rescinding “your” offers as if it’s some statement about you or your classmates. It’s not personal. It happened to you and thousands of other equally deserving students. People are dying, our economy is at a standstill, and businesses are scrambling to remain viable and making decisions in order to survive.

This is not a time for you to beat yourself up, or second guess if you should have taken a different internship, or start your search all over again. Despite your original plans, this summer might end up entirely different. Let that sink in, go ahead and vent or grieve—preferably not on LinkedIn. Now let’s talk about plan B.

Find a different measure of success for this summer.

Create a meaningful experience for yourself. See it as an opportunity to reflect and get away from the noise of our competitive academic environment—and all the pressure that comes with it—and to think about what you really want.

Do it for yourself, not because you think it will impress an employer but because you want to impress yourself. Chances are you will accomplish both.

Some ideas for making the most of your internless summer:

  • Learn something about yourself which in turn could uncover more about what careers would make you happy. The BC Career Center offers the Strong Interest Inventory, and you can follow up with a virtual appointment. Take advantage of free assessments online.
  • Read about career fields, take the time to do research, talk to people, and figure out if the careers you are considering now make sense. Even better, think about something you care deeply about and see if there is a way to make a living around it.
  • Build your network, talk to alumni in the career fields you are interested in. This is a great time to do a purely informational interview.
  • If your internship was rescinded, stay connected to your internship recruiters and other professionals via LinkedIn. Many will be offering virtual training in lieu of internships.
  • Follow your company and their competitors via LinkedIn, Twitter, and other sources of business news. Take note of how they are coping.
  • Take advantage of the myriad of excellent free classes and professional instruction being offered online.
  • Contact faculty about Research Assistant opportunities.
  • Teach yourself more technical skills; maybe advanced Excel, Python, SQL, or R. Also consider polishing your desktop publishing skills with Adobe Creative Suite.
  • Become a better writer. The professional value of being able to write well cannot be overstated.
  • Become an expert on the industry you hope to work in after graduation. Conduct independent research. You may be able to share that research in an interview.
  • Learn more about what’s going on across an industry, not in one specific field, if you are interested in the airline industry, where is there collateral impact. Are any opportunities created from that?
  • Volunteer, use your talents to help a struggling business, nonprofit or local organization in your community.
  • Explore gig work that is currently viable; or sign on with temp agencies
  • Sign up to Woof during harvest
  • Study for the GMAT or Series 7 exams if applicable
  • Brush up on a foreign language
  • Offer to help an employer in your area of interest with a project, maybe you reach out to a contact or alumni in your area of interest and ask if you can take on a project with them, maybe an excel project, social media, data analysis, modeling, updating and improving PowerPoint’s, reorganizing a process
  • Expand your mind and interests by learning something not career-related.
  • Read something—no, everything!—you want to read. Read for pure pleasure.

—By Amy Donegan, Assistant Dean, Carroll School of Management Undergraduate Program

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