Alternatives to a Summer Internship

So you’ve not got an internship lined up for summer. Maybe you’re still looking for a way to use the summer months to help give you a head start in your career? If you’re lucky enough to know the career path you want to take, an internship could be great for you. However, they aren’t the only way to improve your employability. 

Everyone knows how competitive the job market is, and for many students it seems impossible to start their careers without any experience, making internships feel almost vital in ensuring the job of your dreams. However, that is not necessarily the case.

Internships are highly competitive, and hundreds of students apply for each position, meaning many don’t end up with an internship. Also, for many students, internships can be financially draining as many companies still offer unpaid internships. Even if you are lucky enough to find a paid internship, they are often located in big cities, primarily in London, and if you don’t already live a commutable distance this can leave you out of pocket.

So, internships are not for everyone. Here are some alternatives that can boost your CV in many other ways.

Learn something new

The most accessible and easy way to increase your employability that anyone can do: pick up a new skill. Now that you have no classes, but a lot of time on your hands, you can put this to good use learning something that is completely different to your degree. The best bit about this is that you can dedicate as much time to it as you want, whether its 8 hours a day every day or just 1 hour a week – it’s all up to you. In a world where technology is becoming more important, why not learn basic coding skills? Code Academy is an online website with some really clear, in-depth classes and best of all, it’s free! Or, as society becomes more globalised, maybe you could pick up another language using Duolingo which has free, interactive lessons in a wide range of languages – from Spanish to Swahili there is something for everyone.


If you were put off an internship because of the financial element, volunteering might not be for you. But if you can afford to do some unpaid work, the benefits might be greater than those of an internship. Volunteer work is so varied, and you can be given tasks with a lot of responsibility such as organising an event or being a spokesperson. More than that, it speaks a lot about your character and shows you to be compassionate, selfless and having a good work ethic. Depending on what you’re looking for you can have a look for volunteering opportunities online with well-know charities such as the British Red Cross or you get in touch with smaller charities within your local community.

Get a summer job

If you had your heart set on an internship but it didn’t work out, a summer job can add just as much to your CV, and possibly even more. If you can find a job close to your home, you will almost definitely be able to save more money as your commuting costs and rent are minimal. What’s more, working a proper job during summer shows that you are a hard-worker and committed because you’re doing something productive, not just wasting your time. The real-life skills that you get working in customer service or retail are irreplaceable. You know that your communication skills are good when you can calm down an angry customer and diffuse an uncomfortable situation.


If you have the funds available, pack your backpack and set off! Travelling can open your mind and show you different ways of thinking that you had never considered before. If you’re still unsure on what career path you want to take, this can give you time and inspiration to think about the direction you want to take your career in. If you are really prepared, you can look into working abroad, in exchange for accommodation. For example, with WorkAway you can find hosts offering food and lodging in exchange for help on a farm, or teaching English.


Hopefully this has given you some inspiration for summer, and has opened your mind to other great ways to use your time to make yourself more employable that aren’t internships! Just because you didn’t get an internship doesn’t mean your time is wasted. Also be sure to check out the university’s career page for more information about employment, volunteering and internships.

Whatever you decide to do, I hope you enjoy the break!


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