No Internship, No Problem: Ideas for students without summer internship plans

You sent your resume and cover letters out, but all you’ve heard back is “Sorry, we cannot offer you an internship position at this time.”

It’s disappointing. And it’s frustrating. And it’s easy to feel defeated.

But don’t give up! Just because you didn’t land the internship of your dreams doesn’t mean you can’t have a productive and career-advancing summer.



Look for small businesses in your area related to your field of interest. Research the company and brainstorm a projects or services you could complete for the company.

Are you interested in web design? Find a local business whose website needs work.

Want a career in management? Find a local band that is just starting out. Propose you could help book shows and run their social media.

Once you have a good idea, write a proposal and send it with your resume and cover letter. This type of experience shows great innovative and you can tailor the experience to exactly what you want to learn.


The summer is a great time to get ahead and get some classes out of the way. Taking a summer class allows you to learn something new and free up your schedule. Room in your schedule, might leave extra time for you to get an internship during the school year when it is less competitive.


Find a couple professionals (as many as you can) to shadow over the summer, even if it’s only for one day each. Parents, relatives, neighbors… all great people to shadow. Shadowing offers the chance to research, see career opportunities and network.


Customer-facing and other types of summer jobs enhance your communication skills, your ability to adapt, your attention to detail, and your ability to work with a team. It shows employers you have previous work experience and you have a work ethic.

While the job might be a little boring or seem too easy, it is not a waste of time. You’ll be making money while gaining experience.


Identify the skills you want to gain over the summer and find a non-profit where you can gain those skills. Volunteering not only feels good, it also looks really good on your resume.

Employers love to see someone who donates their time and stays productive. According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, those who volunteer have a 27% higher chance of finding a job than those who don’t.


No company hired you to help do their projects? Do your own! Working on projects throughout the summer helps build your experience and portfolio. Need some ideas?

  • Write a blog.
  • Take apart computers and rebuild them
  • Start a forum for your neighborhood.

Any time you can put your education and skills to work, do it. It’ll keep you active and even without an internship, you’ll still have a lot to show for your summer. The projects you start on your own are great things to talk about during an interview.


So maybe this year’s search didn’t work out so well, that’s OK, it’s never too early to start improving for next year.

Come by CAP and have your resume reviewed before the end of the year. You can meet with a CAP advisor to go over some tips for your search next year.

Use CAP resources like Recruit-A-Duke and Vault to assist in your internship search. Start compiling a list of places you want to apply and their deadlines and requirements. Then next year, you will be ready to conquer your internship search.


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