Exploration Preparation

No Summer Internship? No Problem! 5 Ways to Have a Productive Summer Beyond an Internship

While internships are a great way to gain skills and explore a career field, many students seem to think that completing a summer internship is the only viable option for how to spend your summer in the eyes of employers. But truth be told, employers aren’t fixated on the title “intern”. Instead, they are interested in knowing what skills you’ve gained and how you’ve discovered your career interests. And there are MANY ways to achieve those goals. 

If you aren’t doing an internship, consider one or more of the following options to explore your interests and gain critical career skills:

Complete the Career Center’s Summer Praxis Program

Did you know that the Career Center offers a free virtual summer program that you can complete on your own schedule? Praxis is designed to help you gain concrete skills that employers are seeking in entry-level candidates while also guiding you to explore your career interests. Praxis can be done as your primary summer experience or in conjunction with other summer experiences. You can even add this experience to your resume to show employers what skills you’ve gained and your commitment to career development. If you haven’t read about Praxis yet, check it out!

Take an Online Class

LinkedIn Learning, Coursera, edX, and FutureLearn offer online courses on a variety of topics. Students at Boston College can obtain an ecard to gain unlimited access to LinkedIn Learning through the Boston Public Library. Consider taking a course (or two) to further develop a skill relevant to a career field of interest.

Hint: Read through internship or job descriptions in an area of interest to identify specific skills that are valued in that industry, or check out this list of competencies employers are seeking in recent grads.

Give Your Summer Job a Boost

Many students return to a summer job they’ve had in previous years, which can be a very good option. If there are specific skills you are looking to gain this summer, consider whether there are ways to enhance or add on to that summer job in order to give yourself a new opportunity. Proposing something new to your boss that will, for example, make their job easier, improve a process, or have some other benefit to the organization you work for will likely be well-received and will demonstrate your initiative.

Connect to Explore

Setting up some exploratory career conversations and / or job shadow opportunities with BC alums or others in fields you are exploring are a great way to explore your interests and make connections. Using Eagle Exchange, you can find and reach out to BC alums who shared your major, are working in fields you are exploring, or that simply sound interesting. These alums have volunteered to be available to you for exploratory career conversations (aka informational interviews) or perhaps even a job shadowing experience. 

While it may seem intimidating at first to reach out to alums, most students find that once they jump in, it’s not as scary as they thought it would be. Consider what Margaret Guggenberger, LSOEHD ‘22 said of her first informational interviews:

“I was a bit surprised as to how much I enjoyed doing informational interviews. At first I worried that it would be an immense amount of work or that it would be really awkward and overbearing for the people I was interested in interviewing, but I was very pleasantly surprised by how kind and insightful the people I interviewed were, how much I learned from them, and how much I overall simply enjoyed talking to professionals in the fields I am interested in.”

~ Margaret Guggenberger, LSOEHD ’22


Another summer option is to find an organization that you are excited about and volunteer. Volunteer work allows you to gain some experience and skills, while also allowing you to feel good about giving back to the community! It also may allow for a more flexible schedule if that’s appealing or necessary to you. You can find volunteer opportunities that suit you (e.g. based on interests and location) on websites such as Create the Good or Volunteer Match.

Not sure how you want to design a summer that works best for you? Schedule a career coaching appointment with a member of our Career Center team.

– By Rachel Greenberg, Director, Career Education and Strategy

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