No Internship? Now What?

As we power through a hot 4th of July weekend, there are probably some students out there who are wondering what to do if they did not get that coveted summer internship. Not to worry; there is still time to gain experience this summer. Here are a few internship alternatives and strategies to try:

*Call around to the places where you did not get chosen as an intern. Not all hires are a good fit for an internship, and while it does not happen all that often, some interns will leave or get fired before the end of the internship. This leaves the placement without an intern, and you may be able to step right in. You may worry about getting any credit when you start an internship part way through the summer. Take the internship anyway if you are lucky enough to get it. Your school may allow you to sort out the credits later. Even if it doesn’t, you still get the experience, and many students find an evening paid position while interning so that they still make money for school.

*Take an alternative internship. For example, you may be interested in animation, but anime? Not so much. Take the anime internship if it is offered because you will learn many of the same skills such as plot construction and animation skills. When you are finished with the internship, be ready to explain why it is on your resume, especially if you are applying to animation companies. Be honest. Explain you were not able to obtain an animation internship the first time out. Outline the skills you learned, however, and how you can use them in animation.

*Look for summer jobs that may teach you the same skills or help you to make professional connections the way an internship would. For example, Mandy.com lists jobs temp and permanent for the film industry. Signing up with temp agencies for the summer may land you a useful summer experience as well.

*Check out continuing education classes at your local community colleges and universities. Some of these classes tend to be more hands-on learning experiences in the summer. I have seen real-time stock market trading classes, design classes, wine tasting, Monday Night at the Movies and counseling classes offered.

*Sign up for your school’s job shadow program. Summer is an ideal time to follow someone in your field of interest for a day or two to see what he or she does at work. Your school does not have a program like this? So create your own experience. Use your family, friends and alumni networks to locate someone who is willing to host you.

*Summer is also an ideal time to do informational interviews as the work pace slows down in some industries. An informational interview gives you the chance to ask questions about different careers. Research your targeted companies first, and then make a list of questions. The questions you ask should not be about information you can already get online. Use your networks to find someone to interview at your targeted company. This type of interview is purely informational, and you should not be asking for an internship or job at this point. However, you can ask for referrals in general. For example, “Do you know of anyone in the industry who needs an intern right now?”

*Sign up for your school’s mentorship program. Having a mentor is like having access to someone with whom you can do an ongoing informational interview. Again, use your networks to find someone to mentor you if your school does not have this type of program.

Experiential learning can take place year round, too. There are year and semester internship opportunities, ongoing shadow and mentor programs and introduction to careers classes that you can take. Keep your eyes open for opportunities, and the alternatives to a summer internship may give you great experiences that you never anticipated. Good luck!

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