Unemployed College Students: 5 Ways To Get Career-Ready This Summer

Students are trying to stay busy as COVID-19 has disrupted many of their summer plans.

Students normally wait for summer every year to make the best out of the break between semesters to obtain essentials for building their careers. Countless opportunities would usually line up for students and college graduates ranging from internships and fellowships to workshops and part-time jobs.

However, this year, most companies and employers either cancelled their summer internships or suspended them until further notice due to COVID-19, with some 20.5 million Americans laid off, according to data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Although it is uncertain when the job market will recover, college students and unemployed individuals can still gear up for their careers from home.

Learn Employable Skills

Young professional takes an online course.


With over 1,000 universities closing their campuses in March and going online because of coronavirus, many students have already grasped the routine of online learning by now. They have become familiar with a full virtual educational experience that is adequate for learning new skills during their unemployment period this summer.

Among the many online learning platforms that college students could benefit from is edX, a substantial provider for online university-level courses offered by Harvard, Columbia University, and MIT, among others. Students worldwide could access a wide range of disciplines they are curious about for an affordable fee and sometimes at no cost and earn a certificate of achievement following course completion.

Udemy is another learning platform targeting professional adults and students with video courses that are taught in over 65 languages. The platform teaches students both professional and soft skills that would make them employable through diverse content provided by over 50,000 instructors. Students could also take a shot in reaping financial benefits by becoming instructors themselves, launching video courses about in-demand topics they are knowledgeable of or experienced at including photography, programming, and management.

If students have a different concept of career growth amid the current lockdown, other platforms such as MasterClass and Khan Academy offer a diverse experience. Students looking for inspirational advice from professionals working in their ideal career fields might find MasterClass helpful, while students who wish to continue with their academic experience through the summer could greatly benefit from Khan Academy.

Start Volunteering

Volunteering is a great way ti gain some new skills over the summer.


Yes, many volunteerships are on hold for the summer. Moreover, breaking quarantine may not be something most students want nor can do at the moment. However, donating your time and resources to those who need it can often be done remotely! Yes, you can volunteer online.

There are many databases for remote volunteering, such as and VolunteerMatch. These kinds of volunteer resources are great for donating your time where your skills fit and for bettering yourself.

If you feel comfortable and know that you can safely fulfill the role, there are still on-location volunteer opportunities in some areas. This is particularly relevant in health-related fields, like volunteering for a hospice provider. For instance, the American Red Cross is currently looking for volunteers for various positions, both in person and virtually.

Create A Professional Portfolio

Creating a professional portfolio is important for professions.


Working on a portfolio may sound foreign to students who aren't focusing on an art-related field. However, a collection of projects that you have created or contributed to is a valuable asset in a job search. Regardless of the career you intend to pursue after graduation, a professional portfolio is a utilizable tool to show both individual talents and growth. A range of materials can be included in your portfolio, from your resume and cover letter, to various examples of your work, to recommendation letters. It is advisable to pull from many accomplishments, and to include any awards or pieces of recognition.

Once you have gathered the materials you feel comfortable including, you can organize them into a physical document, or you can input everything into your own website. Likewise, you can always do both.

Although building a portfolio will be time consuming, especially if you need to find older projects, having physical proof of your talent can go a long way in landing your dream job. And after you create your portfolio, keep building upon it and updating it as you continue to grow!

Launch A Video Diary Or Daily Blog

A student works on creating a video journal.


Journaling has been commonly known as a stress-relief avenue and could help students amid the current uncertainty about the job market. Video diaries could help students to not only deescalate stress and anxiety, but also act as a self-reflection platform. They can express their daily thoughts about ongoing events and also open up debates with their professors, classmates, or work colleagues.

While video diaries could boost a student's confidence, as it is a great practice for preparing for virtual interviews, writing a daily blog could boost writing and publishing skills while also opening discussions about an array of subjects.

Take On Shorter Time Commitments

Student works on projects from home.


Trying to find another commitment to take up the entirety of your summer may not be in the cards for you this year. Instead, dividing your time among several occupations could be more advantageous at the moment. By balancing more than one engagement, you can keep yourself busy, develop an array of skills, and create income.

A few lesser demanding commitments include (but aren't limited to): starting to freelance, taking on a part-time job, or completing a short-term internship. Another advantage of these commitments is that you can create your own schedule and prioritize what suits your goals best. If you know that you want to take on more independent projects this summer, you can also schedule them into your calendar as a commitment of their own.

Just because your summer did not pan out as you believed it would, that does not mean you have to call it a loss. In the future, you may find yourself in situations that surprise you, for better or worse. What's most important is reflecting on how you can better yourself so that you can persevere in a new direction. After all, college is all about learning. Even when the semester is out, you can always continue this education, just in a self-led manner.

Check out the JT Talks Jobs Podcast for helpful advice to prepare you for a prosperous career life.

Want more advice on how to find career happiness? Join our career growth club today and get access to one-on-one career coaching, resume and cover letter reviews, online tutorials, and unlimited networking opportunities—all in your back pocket!

Man on laptop enjoys summer while working full time

There you are: sitting on the beach, covered in sunscreen, reading your favorite book, drinking your favorite drink under the cool shade of an umbrella. Life doesn't get any better than this. Suddenly, a door slams, a phone rings, a printer turns on. You jolt back into consciousness. You're at work, sitting in your cubicle, without even a hint of sunshine streaming in from outside.

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