Allison Cheston, Career Connector


Career Connector Blog

Summer Internship Not Working Out? Here’s What to Do


It’s mid-summer and you’re in the midst of a coveted internship, following an intense and competitive interviewing period. When you were hired, you and your parents were thrilled.

But it’s not working out.

This summer, many seemingly promising internships will instead end up being boring, repetitive and unfulfilling. And they may not even be paid – even with all the attention on what constitutes a legal internship and how unpaid internships favor the privileged. As a college student who knows how important internships are to build your resume, make contacts and experiment with possible career interests, quitting can seem like a very bad idea.

But it’s not too late. There are still some good options– one in particular that may surprise you.

Check in with Companies of Interest
That internship you didn’t get this summer? Although the company may have filled it in May, there may be attrition. Or they may have new projects they need to staff now while many employees are on vacation. This is a great time to return to your original contacts and also work some new ones for a shorter-term opportunity.

Look to Mission-Driven Organizations
Non-profits typically don’t pay their interns but on the positive side, you can learn a lot and they may allow you to do more substantive work.

Check back with your school on whether they offer grants for unpaid internships; you could get paid after all. There may be some unused funds you can qualify for, even at a late date.

Do Temp Work
Did you know that as a college student you are likely eligible to temp? A non-traditional choice for students, temping pays well and you get to see the inside of a lot of different companies. And it can lead to permanent work once you’ve graduated.

Mary Grimm, Senior Staffing Consultant for Beacon Hill Associates, says that college students can fill roles including floating around an office performing various roles, helping with a project such as a mailing or phone survey program, setting up for tradeshows or providing event support or reception coverage.

To make themselves more marketable to companies, Grimm suggests students look to on-campus jobs such as conducting a Phonathon, being an office assistant for Student Life, and volunteer opportunities at sororities and fraternities and clubs, all of which enhance administrative and organizational skills and are great preparation for a full-time job.

I’d love to hear any creative ways you’ve made up for a disappointing internship, this summer or in the past. If you’d like me to feature your story, get in touch here.