Summer work experience options that aren't a formal internship

Posted in: Work Experience

When thinking about summer work experience, your first thought might be an internship over the summer. Employers use summer internship schemes as a recruitment pipeline for their graduate jobs. Formal internships can be lacking in some sectors and career paths. They can also often be very competitive and have strict requirements. They want students toward the end of their degree who can enter into a graduate job in the next year. Therefore, many organised internship schemes are only open to later-year groups - traditionally just students in their penultimate year of study. This can limit your options, particularly if you are in your first year or are interested in a career path where organised internships are uncommon. Maybe you have applied to some internship schemes and haven't been successful yet. Or maybe you have summer commitments that mean a formal internships isn't feasible.

Don't panic - summer internships are not the only way to get work experience. Read on to find out more.

Build your transferable skills

Getting an internship that is directly related to your chosen career path is a great way to gain experience - it's true. However, do not underestimate the value of transferable skills. Employers really value soft skills. In fact the most common skills graduate employers seek to develop in new graduate hires are resilience, teamwork, negotiating and influencing and leadership skills (Source: ISE Development Survey 2023).

You could build these skills in all manner of ways.

Summer job

Getting a seasonal job over the summer or working part-time year round can be a great way to build transferable skills. So many students discount these experiences and undersell them. But in these jobs you will be developing a whole range of valuable transferable skills that you can add to applications. A common summer opportunity we see popping up on MyFuture is working in a summer school for example. Even if you aren't interested in roles directly relevant to this, a job like that could allow you to develop transferable skills like customer service, communication, organisation, working under pressure, resilience and so much more.

Search on MyFuture

Go to SU Jobs for part-time opportunities in Bath


Volunteering is another one where you can build some great transferable skills. There are some volunteering opportunities that are seasonal but you also might find something you want to commit to year round.

Go to SU Volunteering for volunteering opportunities

Make your own experience

As well as looking at alternative opportunities to summer internships, you could also look at finding options beyond what is advertising. Trying a bit of networking or speculative applications might not necessarily end with a 10 week paid internship but it could give you useful information, and contacts for the future. You might be able to do some work shadowing or a shorter work experience.

Develop your skills

Perhaps there are some technical skills you feel you might be lacking or you want to expand on. You could take some time to explore online courses. Or undertake an independent project that allows you to demonstrate your abilities.

The UK government-run National Careers Service has gathered a range of free courses to help you learn new skills or change jobs. Including general skills that apply to all sectors and more specialised skills. There are some great coding resources here in particular.

Go to the Skills Toolkit.

You could also explore virtual work experience. Some companies are starting to offer virtual work experience "micro-internship" opoprtunities. The format is a bit like an online course but there are opportunities to do some practical projects too. Forage and Springpod are two of the big platforms offering these.

Broaden your internship search

Although this blog post is focusing on alternatives to summer internships, it is worth keeping an eye out for less formal internship opportunities from smaller businesses. These may be advertised closer to the summer, have less rigid requirements and be a bit less competitive than those with a big multinational company. If you are away from Bath for the summer, you might want to search for local employers.

If you are in your first year, on MyFuture, when we advertise internship opportunities we always specify which year groups can apply. So it is still worth having a quick browse to see if any are open to first years. You can search through internships that have specified they are open to first years using the 'Internships - open to first years' type of opportunity.

Get help from Careers

Hopefully you have got a few ideas for alternatives to summer internships. However, if you are concerned about building your work experience whether over this summer or more generally - we are here to help. We can help you get a plan to build your work experience.

Find out how to get help from Careers

Posted in: Work Experience


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