- Dean Drobot / Shutterstock
So, you’re a college student or a recent grad and, despite your best efforts, you’ve got nothing going on this summer.
No internship. No job. No cool travel opportunities. Nothing.
Even worse, every time you check social media, you’re confronted with pictures of your friends chilling with Mark Zuckerberg or saving humanity or traveling around the world in search of dope Instagram shots.
Life’s a nightmare, right?
Well, don’t freak out just yet. We’ve talked to some career experts and they shared ideas on how to salvage your summer.
Don’t give up
Believe it or not, you haven’t missed your chance at a summer gig.
“The internship has become the new entry-level position,” Augustine says. “In fact, many ‘entry-level’ roles now require between one and three – and sometimes even five – years of relevant experience. If you don’t pursue numerous relevant internships while in college, you will be at a disadvantage upon graduation.”
So you’ve got to be persistent and keep trying, even if you feel discouraged.
Youtern CEO and founder Mark Babbitt says that there are plenty of companies still looking for interns – they just might not know it yet. He recommends pursuing a certain type of organization.
“Find a nimble organization that makes decisions quickly,” Babbitt says. “Learn everything you can about them: their mission, products or services, leadership team, customer base, etc. Then walk in with a plan that outlines how you can help them over the summer. Precedent shows the tactic of designing your own internship, while certainly not the ‘easy’ way, is highly effective; most employers will react well to your entrepreneurial approach.”
- Flickr/Nordic Innovation
Talk to your network
It’s important to remember that you’re not alone.
Ryan Kahn, a career coach, founder of The Hired Group, and author of “How To Get Hired” and “Hired! The Guide for the Recent Grad,” recommends reaching out to your contacts in order to commiserate and learn about potential opportunities.
“Although you may feel like you’re the only one who can’t find a job, you’re not,” Kahn says. “And even experienced professionals can relate to your situation, because at some point in all of our careers, we were all unemployed. Everyone can sympathize with this, which makes your network an invaluable resource, both professionally and emotionally.”
Augustine agrees, saying that identifying people who’ve already walked your intended career path is crucial.
“Leverage your network to identify people who are in your desired field or industry, and set up an informational interview to learn more about your potential career path,” Augustine says. “These activities will help navigate your career in the right direction and provide meaningful talking points when a prospective employer asks, ‘So, what have you been up to?'”
Babbitt notes that the summer is a great time to establish or rekindle relationships with mentors.
“Invite as many influencers as possible to informational interviews or video calls,” Babbit says. “Begin speaking with potential mentors and build (or rebuild) relationships with existing mentors.”
Go back to school
Summer school may sound dreadful, but TalentZoo president Amy Hoover recommends using your newfound free time to enroll in online coursework. You can gain new skills to supplement your past or upcoming classes.
“While it’s not real world work experience, it shows commitment to your field and that you’re motivated to keep busy,” Hoover says. “And, you can still keep a paying job on the side.”
Augustine also encourages individuals to pursue professional development opportunities.
Babbitt adds that learning opportunities also exist outside the classroom.
“Other options include job shadowing, self-learning and attending relevant regional and national conventions (many have steep discounts for students),” Babbitt says.
- Wikimedia Commons
Putting your skills to work in a volunteer position might be a good way to bulk up your résumé and give back.
“Volunteer at an organization that could benefit from coursework you’ve taken,” Hoover says. “You can consider this an unpaid internship, and of course can still have a part time paying job too.”
Kahn agrees, saying volunteering is a great way to start building relevant work experience.
“Figure out where you can add value and offer those services,” Kahn says. “Even if it’s as basic as stuffing envelopes, that experience will help build your reputation as a hard worker, not to mention open doors for a paying gig.”
Personal websites are a must for anyone in the job market. Plus, they’re super easy to set up, so you have no excuse not to have one. Hoover encourages job seekers to set up a personal site immediately.
“Future employers respond well to a nicely designed website that showcases your professional goals and personal interests,” Hoover says. “There are free and easy ways to create and host websites where you can then keep your résumé, blog posts, social media profiles, school projects, and applicable portfolio pieces in one place. Summer downtime is perfect to make sure your site is up to date and looking its best.”
On the social media side of things, Augustine recommends resources like Internships.com, CollegeRecruiter.com, LookSharp.com (formerly InternMatch), and YouTern.com. Augustine also encourages job seekers to get active on social media, following Twitter accounts that post about opportunities and building up a LinkedIn presence.
Join the club … any club
Having a summer gig is not just about career opportunities. It also gives you something to do every day.
Kahn says there’s strength in numbers when it comes to facing a potentially boring summer.
“There’s a club for everything these days, and you don’t need a job to join one. Scour LinkedIn, Twitter, and Meetup.com for events and clubs that pique your interest and participate as much as possible.”
Lower your expectations
Recent grads struggling to find a job may be skeptical of taking an internship. That’s a big mistake, according to Augustine.
“There are many companies willing to hire a recent college graduate for a paid internship position. This is a great way to boost your resume, gain valuable experience, learn new, marketable skills, and expand your professional network.”
- Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Choose your summer job wisely
Perhaps you’ve done everything you can and you still can’t find an internship, full-time job, or an acceptable substitute. Now’s the time to get creative and look for a part-time job that’ll allow you to explore and gain some new experience.
“For instance, if you’re considering a career in education, look into positions that will allow you to test out your teaching or coaching skills, such as a swim instructor, babysitter, tutor, or camp counselor,” Augustine says. “You can also take on a retail role, such as a cashier, in a business that falls within your desired industry.”
Establish a routine
Searching a summer opportunity is super stressful. Still, find the time to take a break.
“Set aside a set time each day that’s reserved for your job search,” Kahn says. “And when that time is up, stop. Treat your job search like a job, and give yourself the space to unwind and focus on life outside work when you’re done. Work-life balance applies to job hunting, too!”
Take care of yourself
Remember, not having anything to do this summer really isn’t the end of the world. Maybe it’s the perfect opportunity to relax and regroup before embarking on your next step.
“When you’re uber focused on finding a job, it’s easy to put everything else in your life on hold,” says Kahn. “Don’t do this. Exercise, eat well, and spend time with family and friends. It may not seem like it at first, but the investment you make in your personal health will pay off the instant you land your first interview.”