Many companies have canceled internship programs nationwide due to budget changes and complications from COVID-19. Internships are typically known as important resume boosters and segways for students to figure out their careers, make connections, and get some real-world experience. For those unable to scoop up another opportunity since many programs were canceled at the last minute, here are some ideas of activities you can do to boost your resume and make it a semester worthwhile.
Check Out Micro-Internships
A micro-internship is a short-term internship program which can last a few days to a couple of weeks. Parker Dewey is a great website to check out with hundreds of micro-internships to choose from in sales, engineering, business development, and everything in between. The website is easy to use and all you need to do is create a profile, browse the available opportunities, and apply. You can track your applications and interact directly with recruiters through the website. The website also allows you to filter between remote and on-site options if going into an office is a concern for you amid the pandemic.
Some colleges and universities have also launched their own programs to link students with micro-internships or even short-term projects. Northeastern University recently launched The Experiential Network which connects students with six-week virtual projects in various fields including business development and marketing. Make sure to check out what your university has to offer.
Take an Online Course
With your extra free time, try an elective course to stay occupied. You can access thousands of free or inexpensive courses through various universities easily accessible from the internet. Check out websites like Coursera, edX, and Udemy which through partnerships with global universities and companies, offer tons of free courses and certificate programs. Although some courses cost, both websites have hundreds of free options.
Take advantage of what’s available and learn a new language or take a crack at a computer coding course. Through Coursera, you can learn all about contact tracing for COVID-19 through Johns Hopkins University. Try Python for Everybody offered through the University of Michigan or try Chinese for Beginners offered through Peking University. Computer programmers and bilingual employees are sought after in the job market no matter what profession you choose. Both are great skills that you can add to your resume and discuss in your next job interview.
You can also take a course for fun or simply to learn something new about yourself. If you’re interested in psychology, try The Science of Well-being, a free course that helps students improve their own happiness and implement more productive habits into their lives. If you’re thinking about starting your own business consider taking Brand Management: Aligning Business, Brand, and Behaviour, a course currently offered through the London School of Economics. The options are endless and can help you in any career path you choose.
Keep in mind you can also take a course through your own university or a local community college to pick up some extra credits for graduation or fulfill some degree requirements. Where you can take a course will depend on your university, so be sure to check with your advisor and school.
Freelance and Gig-Work
If you’re a writer, designer, or even an engineer, hundreds of companies are looking for freelance workers to complete short projects. Upwork and Fiverr are great websites to checkout. Whereas Upwork allows you to apply for available jobs, Fiverr allows you to create a profile and offer yourself up for specific types of projects. Both websites have the same goal, but it’s important to take note of their differences when choosing which to use.
If you’re an artist or designer, checkout 99designs, a website where you can connect with clients looking for logo designs, art and illustration, packaging and labeling, and even website design. Flexjobs is another great option with more than 26,000 available jobs from over 5,000 companies including large corporations like Apple and Dell. TaskRabbit will also connect you with odd jobs. When signing up you can pick categories of expertise and offer yourself up as a tasker to clients for jobs like TV mounting, gardening, and even furniture building.
You can also try finding a gig or part-time work. Many ridesharing companies including Uber and Lyft are always looking for drivers. Drivers are needed for the likes of Uber Eats, DoorDash, Grubhub, and Postmates as more consumers order in during the pandemic. Grocery delivery services including Instacart, Shipt, and FreshDirect are especially looking for workers to accommodate the growing need for personal shoppers.
Learn a New Skill
Learning a new skill is a great way to show commitment to a project and differentiate yourself in the job market. As mentioned, learning how to code or speak a foreign language is one way to do that, but there are tons of other options. Perhaps, you can learn a new instrument like piano or guitar through Youtube videos. You can even take the time to get into physical shape or take up reading. While these ideas might seem menial or uneventful, it shows job recruiters that you worked to improve yourself. It also shows ambition and perseverance, skills that recruiters often look for. Also, keep in mind that recruiters are well aware of the situation students are in as a result of the pandemic.
Work on Your Digital Presence
For any job-seeking student, networking through websites like LinkedIn will help you pivot toward new opportunities. Take the time to create a LinkedIn account if you haven’t yet. If you already have a profile, update it with clear and accurate descriptions of your experience and what you’ve done. You can also use LinkedIn to network with other people in your field. Reach out to alumni from your university who’ve gone onto jobs in your field of interest and conduct informational interviews. This is a great way to get a feel for what the job might entail.
You should also take the time to update your resume. Make sure when describing your experience to use active words. Don’t merely list how many stories you’ve published or sales you’ve made. Talk about your experience, how you contributed to the team, or built a customer portfolio.
If you’re in a creative field like graphic design or even journalism, take the time to create your own website using WordPress, Squarespace, or Wix. These easy to use websites are a great way to put all your most important projects in one place and an ideal link to add to any job application. If you have experience with HTML, try creating your own website from scratch using GitHub. This is a good way to showcase computer coding skills, while also promoting yourself.
Study for Graduate School
Now is the perfect time to study for graduate school entrance exams like the LSAT, GRE, MCAT or GMAT. Even if you’re not considering graduate school in the near future, most scores last up to 5 years. And, with an uncertain economy and job market on the horizon, it’s always good to have a backup plan.
If you’re looking to study for these exams on the cheap, check-out PrepAdviser which offers dozens of resources for free practice exams and study guides. ETS allows access to a free preparation test booklet also for the GRE and a pool of topics for the essay portion of the exam. Through Magoosh, an application available through the App Store, you can also test your vocabulary for the verbal section of the test. Many websites including Kaplan, The Princeton Review and Manhattan Review offer free practice tests for most graduate school entry exams, including the GMAT and LSAT. Khan Academy also has dozens of test study guides and lessons available online.
Keep in mind that you need to give yourself time to study. Most websites and test preparation centers recommend students take roughly 12 weeks to study for the exam. So create a schedule for yourself and set yourself up in a comfortable space.