Summer break is a great time for students to develop marketable skills to prepare for the transition from academia into the workforce. We’ve all heard that summer internships are instrumental in helping students gain valuable professional experience, develop on-the-job skills, and determine if they’re on the right career path—but what if you don’t have an internship?
Whether they didn’t have enough experience, bombed the interview, or simply can’t afford to work for free for 20+ hours a week, many students are currently facing a summer sans-internship. However, this doesn’t mean they can’t still use their summer break to develop marketable skills and boost their resume.
For these students, there are a variety of projects they can undertake based on their field of study or interests that will help them hone valuable skills and demonstrate their knowledge and abilities to prospective employers.
Students in these fields would benefit from starting a blog and writing in it regularly. Not only will this make it easy for them to get their writing in front of readers and prospective employers, but it’s also an opportunity to demonstrate any web design skills they may have picked up along the way.
Earth/Environmental/Ag science majors
Environmentally-minded students would benefit from attending regional meet-ups of like-minded individuals and organizing events such as beach or park clean-ups.
For those more interested in agricultural science, designing and planting a garden—especially one that makes use of difficult or limited space—would be a great way to demonstrate sought-after skills like creativity and innovation.
Computer science majors
These budding digital pioneers have a lot of options for summer projects they can take on depending on their specific focus, so they may want to get involved with open source coding communities, hackathons, and Maker spaces.
Developing a personal website is another way to hone and demonstrate web development skills and is easy to share with prospective employers.
New media/graphic design majors
To show off their creativity and visual flair in a digital environment, design students could find their favorite “bad” websites and redesign a couple of pages to show how they would improve the user experience.
Another idea for students who are involved in extracurricular organizations or who have relationships with other artists or entrepreneurs would be to offer to design and create fliers or other promotional marketing materials for them, which is a great way to develop a portfolio of work.
Engineering students also have a lot of options for summer projects, but joining a Maker space would be a great place to start. These spaces will give these students access to more materials and resources than if they try to go it alone, and they’ll be able to get guidance on using resources they’re unfamiliar with.
Some project ideas for engineering students might include building a wearable electronic device, creating a DIY home alarm system, or even building a robot.
But what about the rest of them?
Students who aren’t in any of these fields aren’t necessarily out of luck, as practically anyone can join a Maker space, start a blog, plant a garden, or invent a solution to an everyday problem—it just comes down to learning the process and finding the resources.
If they’re not sure where to begin, the local public library is a great starting point. Not only do they have educational resources and the necessary internet access, but many libraries these days are loaning out tools, musical instruments, media production equipment, and some are even building Maker spaces for the community.
Regardless of the type of project students undertake on their summer break, it’s important to make sure that employers will be able to see the results. Digital portfolios like Pathbrite enable students to upload a wide variety of media types and are easily shared across the internet, allowing students to leverage their project, demonstrate their skills and knowledge, and get the job they want after graduation.