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6 Ways to Gain Experience Without an Internship

Everyone knows the advantage of a college internship.  Experience, connections and hopefully a future job offer.  But what do you do when an internship isn’t in the cards for you LOTS.   

Start with your current resume.   

What is it lacking?  If you are not sure, talk to your career services office.  They are still working for you.  Next ask for a list of former students who interned at companies you are interested in.  Schedule a call with these individuals and ask them about their internship experience.  What did they do, what did they learn and how did that help them prepare for their full-time job?  Are there skills they built during their internship that you can learn on your own over the summer?  Think of both hard and soft skills.   

Practice public speaking.  

Most often interns are asked to present to an executive team what they learned and how they contributed over the summer.  Public speaking is a skill that does not come easily to most people.  Pick a project you worked on during the school year and ask an alum to listen to you present that project and provide feedback. 

Offer to conduct research.  

As a student, you likely have had to conduct research as part of a class assignment.  Use that to your advantage and offer to conduct research over the summer for a professor or for a company.  Whether or not you are paid for this effort should not make a difference.  Make sure you put in the time and effort to produce quality information.  You can also conduct research on the career you are interested in and post about it on your LinkedIn profile If you meet with someone and they provide advice, ask if you can quote them.   

Consider volunteering.  

Along the lines of doing unpaid work, consider volunteering.  Non-profits are a good place to start.  Inquire about problems or opportunities that need attention, but funds are not available, and offer ways in which you can help. 

Work your network.  

Networking is overused but important none-the-less.  Ask family and friends for people you can talk to about your career interests.  Connect with people throughout the summer virtually or in person.   If someone has spent time giving you guidance, follow up on their advice and let them know.  People want to help, but you need to help them help you.   

Read, Read, Read.   

Pick up a book or a business magazine such as Forbes, Time, or Fast Company.  You will be amazed at how many networking conversations can start with “I just read a really good book” or “I just read a really good article.   

Summer is short and your opportunity to grow during this time is extensive! 

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