Maybe you’ve been applying for summer internships since January and nothing has panned out. Or maybe you jumped on the bandwagon a little too late, and you’ve been scrambling for something valuable to fill your time.
Either way, summer is here, you don’t have a job yet, and you feel resigned to spending the rest of your summer perched in front of your TV with nothing to do. After all, it’s too late now, right?
Wrong. While you might not be able to find that one dream internship that lets you earn money, gain experience, and build your skill set all at once, you can still spend the last 10 weeks of summer doing all three. The secret: Divide up your time. Here’s a game plan to make the rest of your summer count.
15-20 Hours a Week: Make Money
If you’re one of the lucky students who still has the financial support of your parents, you can skip this step entirely and devote more time to the next two. But for most college students, not making money is just not an option.
So, look for a part-time gig that will help you grow your bank account, but leaves you enough time to bolster your resume with other activities. Remember that you don’t have to put everything you do on your resume—so don’t bypass opportunities that aren’t exactly brag-worthy just because they won’t pad your resume. Your mantra at this point should be: Anything that pays.
Working at a restaurant or babysitting can be great options here, but if you’re finding that all the positions in your area are filled, you’ll have to get more creative. Try looking for freelance work or odd jobs that you can pick up to make cash. Many schools have a job board where people can post opportunities like this. Or, check out TaskRabbit to find people who need help with tasks like running errands, putting together furniture, and moving, or Guru to find virtual freelance work.
15-20 Hours a Week: Gain Experience
The next thing you were probably hoping for from your summer job is a great position to put on your resume and someone to give you a fantastic recommendation. You can definitely still get this—and once you’re no longer looking to find a position that pays, many more opportunities become available to you. After all, how many employers can say no if you beg to work for them for free?
When looking for positions, reach out to all of your networks (if you haven’t done so already), browse sites like YouTern and InternMatch for available opportunities, and check out some of the companies below that are still looking for interns. Finding work with startups and small businesses can be especially good at this stage, as they’re often short on budget and happy to find go-getter people who want to work for free. Also consider virtual work, which can allow you a more flexible schedule (plus ensure you’re not just going for coffee runs).
If all else fails, find a non-profit to volunteer with for 5-10 hours a week. This can give you just enough experience to put on your resume, and hopefully a contact or two who can vouch for your capabilities.
5-10 Hours a Week: Learn Skills
Finally, devote your remaining time to developing some new additions to the skills section of your resume. Think of one or two things you’d like to know how to do—learning to code, figuring out a new software, or picking up a language—and then find resources to help you learn them. Go to the bookstore (or, better yet, the library) and find books on the subject. Or find a friend who’s an expert on the subject and offer to trade them a free meal once a week for their pointers and advice.
The internet also has plenty of self-teaching aids. If programming is on your wish list, use the rest of summer to catch up on Codecademy. If you’re hoping to add more software to your repertoire, Lynda.com has one of the most comprehensive collections of online tutorials around. See if your school has a membership, but even if it doesn't, it may be worth shelling out $50 to gain access for the next two months.
You may not have that one perfect internship, but you can still gain valuable skills and experience for your resume this summer, plus some cash, too. Sit down with your computer and a little creativity, and start making your game plan for the rest of this summer.