No Internship? No Problem! Alternative Summer Experiences

Career Administrator

An internship is an excellent way to gain work experience and connections, but it’s not the only option for a productive summer experience. Let’s explore some alternative experiences you could pursue in order to work, learn, or engage in personal growth over summer break.


Summer Job

A short-term job, whether full- or part-time, offers money, work experience, and flexibility. Try to seek out a job that aligns with your interests and goals: for example, if you’re a drama student, you might work as a counselor at a drama summer camp. But even jobs in fields like retail or food service can help you build transferable skills such as customer service, teamwork, and professionalism.


Volunteering enables you to give back to your community, gain work experience in a low-key environment, and build contacts that may be useful to your future career steps. And because many organizations are happy for all the help they can get, volunteer positions often just have you sign up, instead of requiring you to go through a full application process. You can seek out structured volunteer programs or just contact local community organizations to learn about their needs.


Doing research is a fantastic way to form relationships with academics, build your resume, gain in-depth experience in your academic field, and prepare for graduate school. Find out if professors in your academic department are looking for summer research assistants. You can also search for research opportunities through a more structured program, such as the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates. Your professors and academic advisors are great resources for discovering and pursuing research opportunities.



Summer’s abundance of free time provides the perfect opportunity for you to learn something new. Whether you’d like to learn to code, build your writing skills, or practice a foreign language, you can educate yourself using resources that are often free and easily accessible. Look at online learning platforms like Coursera and edX, or ask a librarian for their suggestions of educational materials. Or, keep it simple and just enjoy a few books you’ve been meaning to get to.

Summer classes

UVA offers a variety of summer classes that can help you knock out requirements, make progress toward your degree, and learn about topics you wouldn’t normally have the chance to study. Plus, taking a summer class in Charlottesville allows you to explore and enjoy the town when it’s not crowded with students.

Personal Growth

Personal project

Want to build an app, launch your own company, or record an album? Leverage the freedom of summer break to set and complete personal goals. Rather than you having to follow the structure of a job or internship, you can design a summer that’s all your own through developing a personal project.


There are many ways to see the world, whether travel with your family, volunteer on a service trip, backpack or road trip with friends, or travel through a structured program for students. Whichever form of travel fits your style (and budget), travelling can provide you with global experiences, cultural immersion, a chance to flex your foreign language skills, and an opportunity for enormous personal growth. And you don’t have to go far - even exploring a part of your home state you usually drive past can be a valuable travel experience.