How to Create an Alternative Summer Experience: Beyond the Internship

Career Administrator

Are you trying to find summer internships but are frustrated by the lack of opportunities? No worries, there are many other ways to make intentional use of your summer, in addition to gaining employable skills. Below lists suggestions for everyone, as well as those with specific interests.

In General:

  • Externships/Leadership programs: Corporate companies often offer short, week-long shadowing opportunities for students who are interested in working for the company. During an externship, students have the chance to directly interact with the company’s employees and learn about its industry. Although they are not formal internships, externships sometimes serve as direct pipeline to the company’s internships. Leadership conferences function similarly, which focuses on skill acquisition and networking. For example, check out Citi - Sophomore Summer Leadership Program-Summer Analyst, which offers a one-week training program in technical and soft skills including rotation program through its many divisions.

  • Study Abroad: Use whatever remains of your free time (before the onslaught of adult responsibility) to travel! Every university, including UVA, provides study abroad programs to numerous countries in fall, winter, summer and spring semesters. Summer programs such as Cape Town in South Africa offer courses in commerce, engineering, humanities, science and internships opportunities at local companies.

  • WWOOFing: This is another awesome way to gain experience while traveling during the warm, sunny days of summer. WWOOF, which stands for WorldWide Opportunities on Organic Farms, is an organization that pairs young travelers with farms in countries around the globe. In exchange for part-time work, you’ll typically receive meals and housing (and a host farm and fellow WWOOF friends, too). On your days off you’re free to explore the surrounding area or take short weekend trips. Not a bad way to spend a couple of months!

  • MOOCs: MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course, and it’s basically free educational materials offered online from credible institutions. You can learn anything from coding to business to languages and more.

For those interested in coding/developing:

  • Google’s Summer of Code: Spend your summer doing open-source development and making tangible software products from companies. The program is open to anyone above the age of 18. Participants receive a project and mentoring from partnering company.

For those interested in foreign affairs, language and cultures:

  • Critical Language Scholarship: Learn a new language in a foreign country through the support of the state department. The program is a fully funded summer overseas language and cultural immersion for American undergraduate and graduate students. Supported languages include Azerbaijani, Bangla, Hindi, Indonesian, Korean, Punjabi, Swahili, Turkish, and Urdu for beginning, advanced beginning, intermediate and advanced levels; Arabic and Persian for advanced beginning, intermediate and advanced levels; Chinese, Japanese, and Russian for intermediate and advanced levels.

For those interested in writing:

  • Start a blog: It doesn’t have to cost a dime, and if you can prove you have some solid writing skills, hiring managers will look at you favorably. Don’t feel like you have to blog professionally in order to have a blog. Do it for fun. Do it because you like to write. Do it because you want to document your life. It would also be beneficial to learn some HTML and CSS on the side so you could make your blog look pretty and add technical chops to your resume.

  • Work for Cavalier Daily over the Summer: The Cavalier Daily Summer Internship is a paid program that aims to provide students interested in journalism with on­ the­ ground newsroom experience. Interns will be trained to report across both print and digital platforms, with a particular emphasis on multimedia news production, and will be tasked with covering University and Charlottesville news for The Cavalier Daily during the summer months. The internship will consist of one summer editor, two reporters, and one part ­time production staffer​who will work to produce regular online content as well as two summer publications.

For those interested in volunteering and public service:

  • Center for Global Health Awards: The University of Virginia's Center for Global Health University Scholar Awards support and cultivate the design and implementation of interdisciplinary research projects mentored by faculty and conducted at Center for Global Health International Partner sites. Health is a universal value which intersects with multiple disciplines including development studies, the humanities, engineering, medicine, nursing, architecture and law.  CGH scholar awards are available to individuals, partnerships and teams. The award may provide up to $15,000 to cover travel, living, and project expenses.