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How to make the most of your summer without an internship

June 21, 2018 - 4:06pm
UNIBusiness Editor
A student builds the skills of his career

The summer months before school starts in the fall are a nice break from the constant events and homework. It's also a great time to grow and develop life and work skills that you can't in the classroom. Many students have internships, but what about those without one? How can they make the most out of their summer, even if it's not in their specific field?

With the help of Laura Wilson, a UNIBusiness career services coordinator, we’ve compiled some tips to help you out.

Job shadowing

If you're interested in a particular career field, just watching someone in that industry can provide great context for what skills or knowledge you'll need going forward. 

"I think job shadows are always a great thing to do," Wilson said. "I think any chance students can get to learn about the field is a good thing. Job shadowing is always something that I encourage students to take a look at."

The career services department can help you make contacts in different fields for job shadowing. Or, if you're living back in your hometown, you can draw on some of the connections you already have to shadow a professional for a day. 

Core competencies

The National Association of Colleges and Employers outlines core competencies that every employer seeks in a candidate. You can find them here, but in a nutshell, they aren't industry-specific and can be obtained through a variety of positions.

For example, working in a restaurant helps with oral communication, teamwork, critical thinking/problem solving and more. Whatever industry you're in, focus on how you can develop and refine these skills. They are essential in the professional world.

Work in the industry

If you're a person who doesn't have a job lined up for the summer, you can try to find jobs in the industry you hope to work in. For example, if you're a supply chain management major, working in a factory can give you an idea of how manufacturing works from the bottom. That can be crucial knowledge when you start your career.

"For students that are still looking for jobs, they're not going to have as many choices right now than if they started looking earlier in the semester," Wilson said. "But sometimes there are opportunities to work within the field, even if it's not doing the right work. Take advantage of those."

And even if you aren't doing the work you want to do, you can make connections in your industry that could help you get an internship or job down the line.

Prepare for the fall

This can work on a couple of different levels.

If you're going into your senior year without a lot of experience under your belt, you can look and apply for internships in the fall and spring. While you are limited to a part-time role while in school and maybe confined to the local area, these internships have less competition and can benefit you greatly.

"The summer might be a good time to reach out to your Cedar Falls or Waterloo employers to work part time during the school year because it’s never too late," Wilson said. "If you can get one more internship in during the school year that could help build your resume, that's a goal that I would start to build toward during the summer."

Many of the highly sought-after summer internships start the application process in the fall. You can use the summer before to refine your resume and other materials needed to make sure you pop out to the potential employers.

You can look at old internship postings to know what skills or knowledge you’ll need to be the right candidate for the position.


UNI Business

UNIBusiness Editor

UNIBusiness uses a team of writers to conceptualize, develop and share stories and updates with the public. If you have a story idea, an update on an alum or just want to say 'Hi', please email