Above the Clouds
Small Strokes

What can you do besides an internship?

Many things sucked about remote schooling during a pandemic. I mean, “sucked” is one way to describe it. Another way is a simple shrug of the shoulder because it is what it’s been. There were experiences we saw coming, such as trouble keeping up with friends and some we didn’t expect the impact of, like zoom fatigue and how bad burn out can get. Even so, life still goes on and something that never changed was the influx of internship announcements on Linkedin. 

It may be disheartening, frustrating, and even confusing as to how students have found internships anywhere let alone at places like Google and Tiktok. Make no mistake. The people finding internships right now have been putting in the hours and work to get to where they are. However, even if you’re putting in the work and still not receiving calls back, you haven’t reached a dead end. 

First let me remind you that you are not alone. Every student, especially juniors and seniors, are worrying about how they can make up for the time lost during quarantine. If you start talking about how difficult it is finding internships and even volunteer experiences, the whole room will start buzzing and agreeing with you. Many people are in your shoes right now. Second, internships aren’t the only way you can show employers that you are self motivated and have valuable skills. 

Here's what you can do:

  • Network 

    • Networking is a fancy word for having an intentional, professional conversation with someone. It can sound intimidating, but let curiosity drive you! Ask thoughtful questions that you would like to learn from them. Then tell them why you were interested in talking with them. Tell them your goals and how they can help you. Try not to approach the conversation getting something out of them (i.e. an internship). The key to networking is forming a connection. You never know who knows who. 

    • Make a goal today to network with one person this week! You can network vertically with those in higher positions than you, or horizontally with your peers. Everyone starts somewhere and once you continue to network, you’ll realize as you go that you’re mastering the art of conversation. 

    • I know networking can seem scary, but start with someone you vaguely know. Maybe you admire their work. Maybe you’re curious about what they do. Do your homework before reaching out to them and prepare questions to ask them. Ultimately they’ll want to know what they can do for you so know what you want out of the conversation! Do you want to be connected with a person similar to what they do? What is it you want to learn from them and what are actionable steps they can help you take? Starting with someone you vaguely know will also help you be more comfortable at the initial start of the conversation.

  • Personal projects 

    • Personal projects are exciting because this can purely be interest and exploration driven. Think of topics that you’re passionate or curious about, something that gets you excited. Then apply that topic to a skill you’d like to develop. For example, if you’re passionate about climate change and you’re learning about how to code, ideate a site informing those about it and start taking steps to develop it. Personal projects show employers that you are self motivated, a self starter, and it shows your discipline! Start your passion project today because you never know where it will lead you. (ex. Of personal projects: blogging, work on your portfolio) ​​

  • Collaborate with a friend 

    • If you think that you’d work well with a friend, brainstorm ways you two can start a project together. Going off of the previous coding example, if you are learning more about it, you can ask a friend who is passionate about design or content creation to work on a project with you! The more different your skills are, the more creative and unique the project will be. So get thinking! Sit down with each other and come up with some ideas. Write down some of the worst and most predictable project ideas. Then sit there longer and think about ways you can make it more unique. This collaboration may be one time, but you never know what transferable skills you may learn. When you start your own project with someone, you both are setting your own deadlines, creating the vision, and ultimately learning how to work together. ​​

 

If there’s anything you take away from this article, it’s that you have options and you have the autonomy to make something of your own without a formal title. Internships are great and important, but during times when it’s especially difficult to find out, show yourself some grace! Think of right now as building blocks in preparation for the next season. Good luck! 

Above the Clouds