Plan B: Five Alternatives to a Summer Internship

Five Alternatives to a Summer Internship

Things don’t always go according to plan, but don’t let the lack of a summer internship halt your professional development. College students can find numerous ways to excel and grow this summer.  Consider these five ideas:


Is there a class you need or want to take? Or maybe you can find new class options over the summer that are not available to you during the fall and spring terms. Look beyond your own school and at the local and community colleges for ideas.

Get a job and make the most of it.

OK so the internship didn’t work out for you this summer. Consider this advice from Rich Grant, Career Coach, Blogger, and President of the Maine College Career Consortium, “If you can’t find a summer internship, get a summer job. Ask your employer for some additional projects that are meaningful to you and helpful to him. For example, if you are interested in Finance you might take a job as a bank teller.  Ask the branch manager for a side volunteer project.”


Summer is a perfect time to expand and develop your professional network. Look for an industry organization or club that might offer learning and new contacts.  Consider this advice from Career and Social Media Coach Kevin Grubb: “Do informational interviews over the summer. Reach out to new people, or even people you have met with before, and request a 20 – 30 minute meeting.  Ask them pertinent questions about their career path and industry.  Ask for advice so you are better prepared for the next chance to intern.”

Passion Project

Take the summer to follow your own passion. Consider creating your own project related to your academic and career goals. Then take your project and ask for feedback while networking. It doesn’t matter if it’s blogging, accounting, researching, traveling or engineering. Make sure you create a tangible project that can be shared with others.Successful project work or writing is an opportunity to showcase your talent and initiative.


Chances are you will find that there are many choices of terrific organizations looking for summer volunteers.  Find a nonprofit that is a good match for you and your professional or academic interests. Volunteering is usually flexible and  provides great learning and networking opportunities.

Final Advice: Stay Positive!  Advises Dan Black, Americas Director of Global Recruiting at EY, “It’s not the end of the world if you don’t land an internship in your intended field of study. Personally, I was not offered an Ernst & Young LLP college internship after applying, so I worked for another year at a gas station. However, I managed to get increasing responsibility there and build my communication and customer service skills. Don’t hang your head low if you’re not offered an internship; work hard and focus on the next potential opportunity to excel.”

What are you doing this summer as an alternative to an internship? 

Sandra Long

Sandra Long is the author of the bestselling book LinkedIn For Personal Branding: The Ultimate Guide. She is also the managing partner of Post Road Consulting LLC. Sandra and her team work with corporations, universities, and individuals to drive successful sales, career, and talent acquisition results.


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