Faculty Recruiting Support CICS

Internship Alternatives

No Internship, No Problem

It's okay if you didn't get an internship this summer. The coronavirus has had a significant impact on our global economy, bringing uncertainty that causes employers to scale back on hiring and even cancel programs entirely. As recruiters and hiring managers look for more talent in the fall, they know the situation all too well. What they want to see is how you responded to this challenge. Did you give up in frustration? Or did you see an opportunity to find internship alternatives, so you could keep learning, gaining experience, and growing your network?

With the help of our CICS Career Community, CICS Careers is organizing a variety of internship alternatives. Whether your goals are learning skills and gaining experience, or making connections and helping others, we have ideas for you.


Even before the coronavirus, we knew that side projects are one of the best alternatives for internships. Use your dream job as a guide and create a project that will help you gain skills and experience that you can add to your resume and talk about during interviews. Open source projects have the added benefit of scale and collaboration, which is most similar to internships (e.g., MLH Fellowship). Do something that matters to you. Maybe that's creating a personal website, or maybe that's computing against COVID-19.  For the most ambitious, you might want to do Kaggle competitions, or seize this chance to give your startup venture idea a go. 


Fall recruiting is only months away. It's hard to do an internship and get a headstart on grad school applications, or prepare for technical interviews. Form a habit of practicing algorithms with 30 Days of Coding, a student project that suggests videos, github repositories, and hand-picked practice questions. Summer is also the best time to work on your job search strategy, without the temptation of over-applying. Even something as basic as improving your LinkedIn profile can give you an advantage when companies start looking to hire again. Apply for the Summer Leadership Academy for the ultimate preparation program. 

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If you haven't tried online classes from edX, Udemy, and Coursera, you're missing out. Not only are most of them free, but they can also be completed at your own pace. Several include projects and can help you specialize. UMass also offers summer courses so you can get requirements done early, or add on the new business minor. If you are most interested in gaining knowledge that you would have received during an internship, we highly recommend MIT's Missing Semester. There are also countless webinars that can help you learn about computer science research and industry applications.


If earning money is one of your goals, you have more options than internships and local jobs. You can try freelancing or microgigs. Students often overlook the non-technical skills needed to succeed in a job, from customer service to business basics. Employers will appreciate your initiative and you can do projects that have real-world applications. We realize not everyone has the luxury of spending a summer without income, so get creative in finding paid opportunities. 


During this time of social upheaval, the need for volunteers is endless. Our mantra of "Computing for the Common Good" applies in both good times and bad times. So get involved teaching the next generation the joys of coding, or explore virtual community service options. If you want to stay engaged with the CICS community over the summer, we are organizing a UGRAD Research Volunteer program that will pair you with our GRAD researchers.  Several CICS student orgs are also active throughout the summer and looking for volunteers to help plan events such as HackUMass.


Even though we are all social distancing, networking is still possible. Consider trying your first informational interview, maybe with one of your lucky classmates who got an internship. For CICS students, we are organizing weekly #virtual-coffee chats using our Slack Community. Most people get jobs through a connection, and often not their closest friends and family. Take advantage of our enormous and generous alumni community to explore career options and maybe even find a mentor.


Plenty of students get amazing full-time jobs without internships. What's their secret? They create, prepare, learn, work, volunteer and network. Ready to get started? Join the #Internship-Alternatives channel on our CICS Slack Community!