For so many students, COVID-19 is impacting summer plans and putting internships on hold, or worse, canceled. This means the upcoming internship that you just worked so hard to get is no longer going to happen.

Now, you’re wondering how you’re going to get that full-time job you had your eye on, or that next big internship, without the hands-on experience you’d planned to rack up over the next few months..

Luckily, we live in an age where we have access to so much without even leaving our homes (dorm rooms, apartments, etc). So you still have countless opportunities to get that experience under your belt. Instead of focusing on what you can’t do this summer (which I know is hard), consider what you can still do to make sure you’re keeping yourself a competitive candidate for the future, with or without that awesome internship.

Here are some tips for doing just that, from HubSpot’s Campus Recruiting team.

Take Advantage of Online Learning

There are a huge amount of online courses out there, many of which are through some of your favorite prospective employers, available for free, online, at any time. Block off a couple hours a few days a week to complete these courses and even earn formal certifications which you can (and definitely should) add to your resume and LinkedIn profile. The best part, you can build your own learning! Choose the subjects you are interested in, the companies you want to learn from, and when/where you’re going to enjoy the “classes."

HubSpot Academy has some of the most widely recognized online certifications with focuses on inbound, marketing, sales, and so much more. Some other great options include LinkedIn Learning, Salesforce Trailhead, Google certifications, and more.


Volunteer with a local business.

Working without pay isn’t ideal, but it’s an age old way to gain experience during college years. So if you can afford to donate your time or skills, consider your local community, because most likely there are many businesses that are having different kinds of struggles during the pandemic as well. What were you going to do in your internship (or even better, what did you want to do during your internship)? Can you offer the same for a different business? Write blogs, help with SEO, build a social presence, build a website or application, do some research on sales tactics.

In addition to working on your skills and actually having something to add to your resume, you’ll concurrently be helping a business that’s in need right now.

Attend virtual events.

Another area where this pandemic is having a big effect is the live events industry. Yes, unfortunately that means the music festival you always attend and your local patio bars probably won’t be open; but it also means that many business conferences, professional development, and industry events are likely to be moved to a virtual setting.

Fortunately for most of us, this actually makes them so much more accessible. If you were completing your internship this summer, you probably wouldn’t have been able to attend events and conferences that were happening across the globe. But, now that many of these have been moved to a fully virtual platform, the obstacles of location, travel, conflicts with your work schedule, and even cost (in some cases) are removed. For example, HubSpot’s own hugely popular industry event, INBOUND, is going to be held fully online this September. Be sure to check it out!

While major conferences are great, I’d also suggest keeping your eyes out for smaller and more intimate events that your favorite companies are offering. These can range from networking events, to celebrations of diversity and inclusion and professional development opportunities. Platforms like Eventbrite, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Handshake are great places to search for what companies you admire might be offering. As a tip, Akimbo is offering this Emerging Leaders program in June.

teemu-paananen-bzdhc5b3Bxs-unsplashWork on your personal brand & network.

Similar to recognizing opportunities to work with local businesses, you could also use the extra time this summer to work on some personal branding and projects. Blogs and social media are a great way to build experience that you can point to for those interested in things like marketing, communications and business. Building your own Web App and Github are great ways to refine your coding skills.

Another thing you should do is to build your network. In my opinion, creating connections is possibly the most important takeaway from a summer internship. Who says you can’t still reap this benefit from your home?

Start with reaching out to the key individuals at the company you were planning to work for - likely, you have been in touch with a recruiter, your would-have-been manager, or those that interviewed you. That’s a great start. Send them a message to let them know that you’d still love to keep in touch and learn from them even though you are not able to join the company this summer. I’m sure you’ll receive plenty of empathy and probably an offer for a Zoom coffee chat or email correspondence.

And then, why stop there?

There are plenty of different professionals that you can learn from. Caveat here: be intentional about these reach-outs. Don’t send 400 inmails to every CEO or Marketing Director you can find. Consider what you’re looking to gain from these connections and conversations, and make sure you’re well prepared when they do happen. Have genuine questions ready for them, and be mindful of their time. Hey, you may even find your next career mentor!


Be Kind to Yourself.

Finally, take the time you need to recharge. There are lots of great tips mentioned above, but keep in mind that you’re not the only one experiencing this territory. Recruiters and hiring managers are a part of this world right now too, so the lack of an internship this summer is something that everyone will understand.

What you can do is still work hard so that you stand out the next time you’re looking for a new role, but don’t overburden yourself with back to back hours of work a day. Read a book that has nothing to do with business or personal development, enjoy time with those around you, sleep, and watch that Netflix series in one weekend.

We’re all in this together! Feel free to discuss these challenges during interviews in the future.

drew-coffman-DzIt-fTYv4E-unsplashOne more thing, you should absolutely add the internship that got cancelled to your resume and LinkedIn profile.

Check with your contact at that company if you want, but there’s no reason you can’t still boast the internship that you were originally offered. The process of preparing, interviewing, and receiving an internship offer is no small feat; you should still be sharing the accomplishment.

Now, throw on your favorite NPR Tiny Desk concert, and begin to discover what courses, events, and companies you’ll be getting involved with this summer.

If you found these tips helpful, don’t forget to keep an eye on our Student Careers Page (now that you’re a super competitive candidate). Wishing all students the best of luck during this time, and we look forward to seeing what you do!


Originally published Apr 22, 2020 11:22:48 AM, updated January 19 2023