Los Angeles — While everyone else is heading off to their summer jobs or getting paid to gain experience in their respective fields of interest, others are stuck at home with what seems to be plenty of free time on their hands.
Not so fast, there.
Even if you were unable to line up a summer internship — whether you weren’t selected for the position or you didn’t even think about it during the stress of spring semester — don’t worry. There are other ways to improve your craft and have a productive summer break.
Take Online Courses or Certifications
The main way I’ve taken advantage of newfound productivity this summer is by taking online courses that allow me to hone in on my craft. In years past, I completed numerous coding certificates from reputable learning platforms. I have also taken some courses in other areas that genuinely interest me, such as Yale’s popular course, “The Science of Well Being.” This year, however, I decided to turn towards something that’s more in line with my career path.
I recently found an editing certificate from the renowned journalism institute, Poynter, that I’ve worked into my schedule. It’s been a great way for me to review some old skills and learn some new ones, and it will be particularly beneficial when I step into the sports editor role for my college’s newspaper next semester.
Over time, I learned to appreciate the fact that learning doesn’t stop outside of the classroom. I’ve always embraced opportunities to learn something new, whether it’s reading books on a particular topic or watching “day-in-the-life” videos on your dream job. As valuable as these certifications might seem, they should not be thought of as résumé boosters. Rather, after all of the hard work, you should be prepared to put those skills into practice, whether it’s in school or through passion projects.
Create Something on Your Own
Going back to those coding certificates, Computer Science has always been a realm of interest for me. As someone who began learning how to code at 13 years old, I have continued exploring various paths and projects that allow me to put those skills into use, recently finding ways to incorporate data visualization into my sports articles. Though I put Comp Sci aside to focus on school, I’ve always found coding — and Web Development in particular — to be another creative outlet for me, crafting several small websites and posting them to the development platform GitHub, with the projects often coming from Frontend Mentor or DevProjects.
Ultimately, I find that creating anything in the summer is a fantastic use of free time. I have friends who engage in similar endeavors — from recording music to directing films — so the possibilities are endless. It’s not only a fun experience, but there are a myriad of lessons to be learned in the process.
Take Advantage of Networking Opportunities
Finally, even though this summer’s internship didn’t pan out, you shouldn’t wait for the next application season to begin talking to professionals who have the jobs you want. Aside from improving your craft through courses and projects, be prepared to reach out to people who can help you along your journey.
I’ve had the pleasure of attending several networking events in and outside of college, with the first being the Asian American Journalists Association convention last summer. It gave me some great insights into the industry and also served as a huge opportunity to network. I met reporters from different media outlets across the country and learned about their respective internship programs. I’m looking forward to continuing that journey at this year’s AAJA convention, intent on expanding my connections and learning more about internships that I could apply for down the road.
There’s a saying that goes, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” When it comes to scouring future internships, truer words have never been spoken.
Jordan Pagkalinawan (he/him) is from Los Angeles and covers news, health and technology. He currently studies journalism at Emerson College in Boston. Follow him on Twitter: @JPagkalina1 and Instagram: @jpagka22
Edited by Nykeya Woods