The Best Summer Jobs That Aren’t Internships

For many campuses, Spring Break is over and classes are back in session. Students now have their sights set on surviving the remainder of the semester as their attention shifts toward the summer months. If you’re an undergraduate business school student, this most likely means the coveted summer internship.

But for some, what should be a joyful time exploring their passions and identifying different opportunities that align with them, is anything but. Thanks to the highly accelerated recruiting schedules imposed on business schools by the finance industry, not only are many of the sought-after summer internships just about gone, but business schools at the University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown University, Villanova University, and others all report that they’re already engaged in recruiting talks for summer 2019.

In a recent article in the University of Pennsylvania’s student newspaper, one Wharton student expressed her frustrations having not yet obtained an internship for the current summer, but already having to start her search to secure a spot a year from now.

“I think people are mostly just annoyed and frustrated that they have to do this so early,” Linda Ashmead, a Wharton sophomore, told the paper. “The one nice thing about it is that the potential of having the opportunity to have an internship before school starts. For me, I’m willing to be more stressed now if it means that I don’t have to be stressed in the fall.”  


To be clear, most schools agree that the main industry wreaking havoc on the traditional internship hiring cycle is financial services, let by investment banks. But across all industries, it’s the bigger companies and firms with large human resources and recruiting infrastructures that have had their summer interns locked in since fall of last year. On the other hand, however, the amped up recruiting schedules are not the only reasons students can find themselves midway through spring semester without any confirmed summer work plans.

Brenda Stover, director of the Villanova School of Business Center for Professional Development tells Poets&Quants the reasons vary from one student to the next. It can be as simple as getting a late start because they were understandably focused on their academics to not having a high enough grade point average. Or, it can be more complex.

“Sometimes it’s that the student is going down a rabbit hole that they’re not well aligned with,” Stover says. Using financial services and investment banking as an example, she explains, “Sixty percent of each of our graduating classes are finance students. There’s this very, very strong interest and this culture that says, ‘If you’re a finance major, you have to be in financial services or you have to be in investment banking.’ The beauty of it is found in those tough love conversations about getting interviews, but not making it to further rounds. When I probe around those issues, for instance for IB or for finance, we sometimes find the students weren’t able to answer technical questions or to give their opinions on things impacting the market. It’s not necessarily a bad reflection on the student, but it could be an indication that the student isn’t motivated about the market or maybe their true passions and interests are not aligned with investment banking.”

Whatever the case may be, for students who find themselves without any definitive summer work plans, career services administrators say the wrong thing to do is to panic. Poets&Quants sought out a roundup of tips and traditional internship alternatives from careers services professionals at five top business schools: Villanova School of Business, University of Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business, University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School, Georgetown University McDonough School of Business, and the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management. All is not lost, they each say, as there are plenty of opportunities to go around and there are a multitude of ways to add value to your resume other than a summer internship.


McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University

Business schools are filled with professors who are renowned experts thanks to the endless streams of academic research they conduct and contribute to their various business fields. This spells opportunity for students seeking something of value to add to their resumes this summer.

At Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business, a summer stipend is available for students who choose to stay on campus during the summer months and immerse themselves in faculty-led academic research. The McDonough Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship — SURF, as it’s called — awards participating students either a $2,500 grant for a five-week research project or $5,000 grant for a 10-week research project to be completed during the summer.

Rebecca Cassidy, a senior assistant dean at McDonough and director of the school’s Office of Professional and Leadership Development, tells Poets&Quants, “Students pick any subject and professor they want to work with to develop a summer research project and sometimes they work part-time on the side as well. We usually get about 15-20 students per summer and they’re often on the younger end. Usually, it’s students at the end of their sophomore year. They’re not quite ready for a traditional internship, but they also don’t want to go home for the summer either.”

Research opportunities also exist at the University of Notre Dame.

“Every single faculty member has research they’re working on,” says, Bridget Kibbe, a career engagement manager and career counselor at the University of Notre Dame Career Center. “For a student, it could be directly applicable to what they’re learning as an undergrad, but it can also show employers they’re developing research skills and that they’re able to communicate both written and orally. These are all valued skill sets no matter what you pursue.

“This is a huge area of opportunity because so much research goes into everything now,” Kibbe continues. “With things like data analytics, being able to understand and talk through data is prevalent in every industry.”

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