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At the end of my first year at Carolina, I was planning my summer at home in Massachusetts, excited to return to the job I had held the previous summer. These feelings of eagerness quickly faded away after talking with some of my closest friends; it seemed that they all had fun and exciting internships related to their career interests and I could not escape the feeling that what I was doing was not good enough. I thought that I was behind in my career search and future potential employers would look at my resume and scoff at this “hole,” wondering why I wasted away an entire summer.

If you’re feeling anything like I was feeling, don’t. It’s okay if you don’t have the perfect internship at the end of your first year. There are still some great things you can do during the summer that will help you on your career development path!

  1. Take summer classes. Maybe there was a class that you really wanted to take your first year, but you never had the chance, so why not try it out now? If you’re not taking the class at UNC, you can even see if credits will transfer.
  2. When in doubt, volunteer! Even if you can only commit to a few hours a week, getting involved in the community and volunteering your time and effort to help others looks great on any application, plus you’ll feel good for making the world a better place!
  3. Get a summer job. Even if it’s waiting tables, or working as a camp counselor, or life guarding at the beach, as long as you can show that you spent your time doing something worthwhile. Even the most menial jobs are guaranteed to help you develop skills and experiences that you can highlight on an internship application or a job interview.
  4. Set up a shadowing experience. Even if you’re remotely interested in learning more about a career, contact professionals in your area and see if you can talk to them more about their jobs. Not only will most people be more than accommodating, you might make some contacts in the industry that will become really important.

Don’t stress if you don’t have a summer internship.  Take advantage of the time to get experience or learn something new this summer that will help you down the road.

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