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Finding an internship for the summer can feel a bit like a competition for some students at Northwestern. And to those students who for whatever reasons have yet to find an internship or research position, they can’t help but feel frustrated and maybe even disappointed.

I’m here to tell you all, that there are still ways to make the most of the summer and to do great things that can contribute to your future career goals, even without an internship! How you ask? (Drum-roll please…)

  1. If you are returning to your job you’ve had in your hometown since High School, ask your supervisor if there are any extra projects you can work on. For example, say you are a waitress who is interested in working in marketing one day. Ask your manager if you can help with advertising, starting a Facebook page or redesigning the look of the menu.
  2. Start your own business. Easy for me to say… but I have heard of some amazing stories of students starting landscaping businesses or tutoring services. This proves to future employers that you can be a leader, take initiative and manage projects.
  3. Volunteer. Look for ways to donate your talents to non-profits, schools, religious organizations. And I don’t mean just cleaning up parks or helping with a car wash… I mean can you do accounting for a business, can you help with a legal aid organization doing administrative tasks, can you volunteer to be a translator for immigrants?
  4. Get to know people in your chosen field. Spend the summer getting to know NU alumni and important community members. Request to job shadow or if time is limited ask to meet with them for 30 minutes for an informational interview.
  5. Meet with me and my colleagues at Northwestern University Career Services. We are here all summer and would love to see students who want to explore their career choices, need help transitioning to the working world or students that want to get a jump start on the Fall recruiting season. Just call 847-491-3700 to schedule an appointment.

So as you can see, there are a number of great, productive and proactive ways to use your summer even if you are not in a formal internship program or doing research. Enjoy these last few weeks of Spring Quarter, continue searching for internships (they are still out there), but if you do not find an internship please consider my list of ideas.