Students: if you’re freaking out because you’re summer plans aren’t set yet, take a deep breath and realize you are not the only one. Whether you have been applying to internships for months, or if you’ve just started, here are some things to do right no–and throughout the summer–to set yourself up for success.

1. Keep Looking For An Internship

The constant question I get at this time of year is if it’s too late to get an internship–and the answer is, no, it’s not too late!

I think it is important to realize that certain companies recruit summer interns in the fall, there’s another surge in postings around January/February, and then the rest of companies will post their internships right until summer ends.

If you haven’t already done so, spread the word now among your family and friends about the type of internship you are seeking.

You can use internship specific sites like,, and while also checking the careers pages of companies where you want to intern. Even if a position is not posted, you can always reach out and see they’d be interested in hiring an intern. If you do get an internship and would like to do it for class credit, remember to email Kathy Benjamin at the iSchool, at, to get the process started once you’ve gotten the offer.

2. Fill Your Skills Gap

As you are looking at internship descriptions, start noticing what skill sets and experiences keep coming up in multiple postings and write them down. Think about each skill/experience and if you’ve ever had the chance to develop or use that skill before. For example, maybe you took a web design course but know you could use a little more practice before taking on an internship.

When you take the time to assess where you might have a skills gap then you can seek out opportunities to build that skill over the summer so you will be more likely to land your dream internship or full-time job later.

There are a few ways that you can build you skills for free including sites like Codecamedy and Khan Academy. Microsoft Imagine allows students to create websites, games, and web apps for free as well.  Also, do not forget about your public library – they might offer workshops on things like Excel, coding, and more.

3. Make the Most Out of  Any Job

Whether you are a waiter or a sales associate in a store, you can still get great experience from a traditional summer job. Most of the skills you will be developing are soft skills, things like communication, leadership, and teamwork. These are skills that employers want–so make sure you take advantage of every opportunity to do a little bit more if it means you’ll further develop these skills. Ask your manager if there is anything you can do to help or better yet, observe where he or she might need help and offer a way to do so.

4. Volunteer or Create Your Own Project

The local non-profits in your area could likely use some extra help with their IT projects or other initiatives so consider offering to volunteer your services in order to get experience you can put on your resume.

You can also develop your own projects that focus on your area of interest. This way you can set your own goals, deadlines, and work schedule.

One thing you could try to do is build a personal website. Not only will you build a skill, you will also create something that will strengthen your personal brand during your internship/job search.

5. Network

The summer can be a perfect time for you to connect with family friends, alumni, and other people who work in roles or industries you are considering. You can find alumni through LinkedIn (make sure to join the iSchool group) and ask them for an informational interview so you can learn more about their career path, what they do on a daily basis, etc.

This advice can be extremely helpful as you try to decide what career path to pursue and may ultimately help you develop a more effective internship/job search strategy. If you’re able to maintain relationships with professionals, you may be made aware of opportunities in the future that you wouldn’t have known about otherwise.

The last thing to remember is that I am available all summer long to talk with you about any of your career-related questions.

Don’t worry if you’re not local to the Syracuse area – that’s what the phone or Skype is for.

And it’s totally fine if you’re graduating this May, because I work with alumni, too. So enjoy your summer, but be sure you use it to your advantage, too!