• Career Center

No Internship? 9 Ways to Maximize Your Summer Break

Updated: Apr 15

Are you doing something this summer that improves your resume and builds new skills? Here are some ways to put your summer to good use.


Build Transferable Skills

Are you working a “pay the bills” job this summer? This is a job that is not related to your career goals, but simply a job that puts dollars in your pocket. Make the most of any job by building transferable skills: professional communication, contributing to a team, time management, balancing multiple deadlines, learning a new skill, utilizing technology, or leadership. All those skills (and many others) can transfer to other industries and positions in the future. Focus on job tasks that build transferable skills in any job you have, ask for tasks or projects that can be shared on your resume and work hard to earn a strong reference from your employer.


Be Proactive

Working a summer job also exposes you to additional professional roles within the company. Start by identifying departments or positions that connect to your career interests.

  • What does the CEO do?

  • What goes into the company’s marketing plan?

  • How is human resources organized?

  • Who handles the social media for the company?

  • What is involved in the financial side of the organization?

  • What tools does the tech department use?

Identify employees in a role you want to explore and ask to shadow, meet, or help with projects. Suggest a lunch meeting where you can ask about their role or take advantage of company provided professional development offerings. This proactive approach may help transform your job from an hourly summer hire to a more substantial summer experience.


Volunteer

Identify a cause you feel passionate about and devote a few hours a week to volunteering. Idealist has many volunteer options which you can sort by 50+ “issues areas” including LGBTQ, Health, Environment, International Relations, Law, Human Trafficking and many others. Additional sites like Volunteer Match, United Way, Inner View and All for Good are eager to place you with an organization or event where you can gain experience that can be added to your resume.


Leverage Your Network

Communicate your career interests with your existing network (family, friends, classmates, neighbors, co-workers, etc.). Share what job and industries you are interested in as a way to find out who knows who and how they can help or REFER YOU. Post about it, tweet it, talk about it, share the details, and start conversations to make sure the people you already know have an opportunity to connect you to people within their networks.


Job Shadow

If you are still deciding what would be an ideal job for you, job shadowing is a great way to test drive career options. Message a Lehigh alum on Lehigh Connects, reach out to Lehigh Alum on LinkedIn, email a local professional, or ask friends and family if they would be willing to host you for a full or partial day so you can learn more about what they do on the job. Go prepared with questions and dressed professionally.


Talk to a Lehigh Alumni (who lives anywhere in the world)

If you are not able to meet in person, you can still collect valuable information by communicating with a mentor on Lehigh Connects. Browse the network of over 3,500 alumni profiles with the “Map view” to see mentors located all over the world. Use the “Send a message” option to start a conversation. Brain storm questions to ask using this blog post so that you can gather advice and information from a Lehigh alum in a company, job, industry or location of interest.

Build a Digital Portfolio

A digital portfolio is a great way to show off your experience, work or skills in a way a paper resume cannot. Purchase a domain name, choose a website host, and design the website using the links, quick guides and information on Handshake. Get started by organizing and designing your content from academic projects, research, class presentations, work accomplishments, videos, PowerPoint, publications, artwork, photography, and academic papers. Many sites like wix or square space offer affordable or free templates you can use. Be inspired by Lehigh students and alum by reviewing their sites: Reilly, Nadine, Gunner.


Build your LinkedIn Page

A well done LinkedIn page needs to capture all the experiences listed on your resume with the added value of unlimited space for expanded details and uploaded media. It's important to build your connections, upload a professional headshot, include a unique headline and concise bio, and add many other optional sections. Take time to improve or update your profile to include a detailed summary of your skills, education and experience. Use the example Mountain Hawk profile from Handshake to learn more about what makes a strong LinkedIn profile.


Teach Yourself a Valuable Skill

Whether you are picking up a new coding language or studying a foreign language, there are lots of skills you can work on while off campus. Read articles, watch an instructional video on youtube, take a class at a local community college, use free online resources, tinker and self-teach a skill that you can use in a future job.


Codecamp : Learn to code at home, build projects, and earn certifications

Grants.gov Learning Center : Learn to write grants

Code Academy: Offering 10,000 free accounts to learn programming

Plural Sight - build in-demand tech skills

Tableau - For those interested in learning how to use Tableau for data analytics

Adobe: Creative Cloud tutorials, Photoshop on Coursera, Adobe classes (beginners, certifications and master classes)

Graphic Design: Coursera

Photography: Udemy

Social media & Branding: Coursera

WordPress: Udemy

Powerpoint: Udemy

Excel: LinkedIn Learning

Coding & Programming: Udemy, Coursera, edX

Google analytics: LinkedIn Learning

Foreign Language free online learning: Duolingo, Open Culture, edX

Web Design: Udemy

Create a portfolio/website- Squarespace, Wix, Behance, Flickr, Portfoliobox, Dribble, Coroflot, Adobe Portfolio, Carbonmade, Cargo, Crevado, Journo Portfolio, Muck Rack

Code Academy: Offering 10,000 free accounts to learn programming

Learn a foreign languages free programs: Open culture


A wasted summer break is one that doesn’t bring an added value or new experience to your resume. You have lots of options outside of a traditional internship, choose something that aligns with your interests and prepares you for the next steps in your career.




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