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You Didn’t Get That Summer Internship. Now What?

By Danni Ondraskova

May 30, 2017

It’s been a long semester. The flowers are finally beginning to come out, and the year is winding down to an end. But everything isn’t necessarily perfect—you haven’t received that internship offer yet. Maybe you’re waiting on a handful of places. Or maybe things just didn’t work out this year and you haven’t been accepted anywhere. Maybe you didn’t have time to apply because you’ve been so swamped by schoolwork, friends, jobs, and of course sleep.

Whatever situation you find yourself in, there is always something you can do to make the best of it. Read on for some advice for making the best of your summer, curated by whatever year you are in in college.

Current freshman

You’ve just gotten the ropes of college last semester and are steering your ship to the first phase of your career. You may be stressed out about not having an internship offer yet because some of your friends are working for small businesses, boutique firms, or other companies. Never fear!

In many years, freshmen are not expected to have internships, although some study abroad experience, internship, job, or other immersive summer will give you a leg up over people who don’t do anything in that time.

Feel free to look for seasonal jobs in your city or town and make some money (in many full-time jobs paid at minimum wage, you can make several thousand dollars over the summer). Many places have a quick hiring process, and it can’t help that the economy is recovering in many sectors.

You’ll have something to do over the summer, plus any money you make will be very useful if you work in high-cost areas in your later college years, have medical expenses, or want to pay some debts.

Current sophomore

Sophomore year is an odd time that can be described as twilight—many a fierce debate have been held on whether sophomores have to do an internship or job. In business or research related fields, many college students get their first professional experience as sophomores so they can get a leg up in the often more competitive internships for college juniors.

If you haven’t received an internship yet, email your professors and other social connections and ask if there are any openings.

Although there may be fewer business opportunities around this time, consider working for the government in a business related area (Capitol Hill has Legislative Aides that specialize in business in every Senator and Congressperson’s office who can mentor you and provide research opportunities) or a small business or local bank.

Current junior or senior

I put these categories together because in many cases in elite schools, graduating seniors pursue national fellowships or a full-time job rather than an internship. Both groups of college students have plenty of considerations of their post-graduate future to ponder.

If you haven’t gotten an internship yet, follow the advice for sophomores and note that your upperclassmen status will often give you priority for program or one-on-one college summer research. There are also many research opportunities at neighboring universities you can consider, especially if you are in an urban area.

Finally, if you’re applying to graduate school, you may want to take the summer off and study for your standardized tests full time in addition to starting your graduate school applications.

Danni Ondraskova will graduate in 2018 from Wellesley College. Danni plans on earning a dual degree in law and business and dreams of working for JP Morgan’s Global Investment Management division.

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