My freshman year was coming to a close and I couldn’t have been happier with my first year at Ohio University. I had made great friends in my dorm, joined a sorority and PRSSA, and done well in all my classes. As sad as I was to leave Athens, I was so excited to be heading home to Cleveland for a summer internship I had gotten through a family friend.
Then the unthinkable happened: about a month before break began I was notified the company’s funding for interns was taken away and I was left with an internship-less summer.
I’m not the first student to experience this situation, and I can promise that I won’t be the last. After some panicked calls to my mom and some too-little, too-late internship applications I decided that if I wasn’t going to have an internship over the summer, I still needed to do any, and everything possible to grow myself—and my resume.
If you find yourself at the last minute without an internship, don’t let it keep you from exploring other opportunities. Here’s what I didn’t to make my summer as productive as possible.
1. Work. I had worked at a local flower shop for several years prior to going to college and my boss was the second person (after my mom of course) that I called when my internship fell through. I was welcomed backed to my old stomping ground with open arms and I was able to save up money..
Whether it is returning to the part-time job in high school or mowing your neighbor’s lawn, find some sort of job. At the end of the day, you’re still a student with lots of student loans. If you are having trouble growing your resume, try to grow your bank account. Employers would rather see that you were doing something with your summer rather than nothing.
2. Network. Even though I was lacking in the internship department, I still wanted to network and learn about the PR industry. I got in contact with the director of communications at Progressive Insurance and was given the opportunity to not only job shadow an event, but meet with the entire communications department including their public relations and social media teams.
I was able to talk extensively about the different job roles and get a better understanding of corporate PR. I walked away from my job shadowing opportunity with advice, business cards and many promises of helping me find internships in the future.
Just because you don’t have an internship doesn’t mean that you can’t play in the PR sandbox. Talk to your family and friends. Everyone knows someone and it just takes one person to put you in contact with the right person. Find a company or agency whose work you admire and get in contact with them. They may not be able to offer you a full internship, but you can still grow a relationship with the people and the company.
3. Learn. I didn’t have an internship which meant I had plenty of time. I might not have been in school, but that didn’t mean that I couldn’t learn. Throughout my summer I explored some of the things I had heard about in my PRSSA meetings, but never had the time to explore – Hootsuite, cleaning up my resume and updating my LinkedIn page.
If you’re going to sit at home over the summer catching up on the latest Netflix series, bring your laptop with you. Spend time that you don’t have during the school year looking up and creating. Google, google, google. If you heard something mentioned multiple times throughout the year and have no idea what it is, find out. Your computer can’t judge you for asking the same question five times so take the time to really dig deep into topics you aren’t familiar with.
If you find yourself with a less than ideal summer, don’t panic. There is always something you can do to improve the situation and it is up to you to make the best of every situation. Learning to adapt is one of the best skills you can have in life and nothing will test your ability to adapt more than losing an internship.
-Sydney Gardner is a sophomore studying strategic communication. Follow her at @SydneyGardner.