Craft A Unique Experience

There are many ways to gain professional experience outside a traditional full-time, 3-month summer internship. Many organizations do not recruit through a formal process, but that doesn’t mean they do not have interns. Preparation is needed for a successful experience and students are encouraged to begin this process early. OCS provides access to thousands of opportunities around the globe and also helps students craft an experience to fit their unique interests.

  • Step One: Determine Your Goals – Is the internship a way to try out a career field, engage in research, or participate in an independent study project? Do you want to improve your foreign language skills or explore a new culture? A great place to start is to understand your career interests, personal values, and skills. Articulating any concrete (or new) goals will help as you consider new and different opportunities.
  • Step Two: Make Contact – Building new professional relationships is essentially networking. OCS has numerous resources to help you through this process on our Networking page. Reach out to alums through Cross Campus, LinkedIn, and the Peer Networking Lists in the Career Library in Yale Career Link.
  • Step Three: Develop A Learning Plan – After connecting with an individual or organization interested in considering you for an internship, it is important to clarify expectations (both yours and the employer’s) for the experience to be meaningful. Consider developing a Learning Plan (with worksheet) in collaboration with your supervisor, which is a document that articulates summer goals, how you will achieve and evaluate them, and the structure of supervision.

Other tips for creating your own professional experience include:

  • Be flexible and consider a number of ways to create a professional opportunity: volunteering, part-time jobs, short-term internships, remote micro-internships, remote internships, and shadowing.
  • Make a list of all the businesses/organizations of interest. What functions do they have that they may need support with? Do they have any opportunities for a part-time student to create something they need?
  • Expand the list of potential employers by using the following resources: Guidestar, and CareerShift (Company Search).
  • Consider hometown connections who may be able to assist you: family, friends, past teachers/coaches, past supervisors, high school alumni, a Yale Alumni Club in your area.
  • If you are looking for part-time work, you may need to call businesses directly or email your resume to them. This may include remote micro-internships, or part-time or freelance work including online tutoring, etc.
  • Use larger job boards such as CareerShift (access through Yale Career Link, under the Resources section),,, and There are many more listed in the Resource Database. Of course, keep your eyes on Yale Career Link’s job board but make use of others as well.
  • Network with Yale alumni, peers, and organizations of interest. Review OCS’ tips on doing informational interviews.
  • You may also wish to consider remote opportunities. Check out OCS’ compilation of remote work resources and considerations.

Can I find a professional opportunity in my hometown?

Yes! It may take some time and creativity depending on your town or city, but OCS advisors are available to help. You can start by using the resources above for finding employers in your hometown.  If you are sending cold emails to local businesses/organizations, here are some pointers:

  • Use ‘Dear’ or ‘Hello’ to address the recipient
  • Always introduce yourself with your name and that you are a student at Yale
  • Share that you are living in your hometown this summer
  • Explain some of your interests and make a connection to the work they do
  • Ask if they need any full- or part-time help in your areas of interest
  • Attach a resume
  • Thank them for their time

What about online learning?

You may be interested in skill development either through an online course or self-directed study. Here are a few options:

  • Yale students can review online course options through Yale Summer Session.
  • You have access to LinkedIn Learning as a Yale student. Access hundreds of skill-based courses.
  • Learn or continue in a language: download and use the DuoLinguo app, take out a language book from your local library, set up a weekly Zoom call with a native speaker.

If you decide to learn a new skill independently, it will be helpful to find a system to keep yourself on track. Create a calendar for yourself, and check out the sample Learning Plan from OCS with a template you can complete on your own.

Don’t forget about podcasts related to careers and career development.

If Plans Change

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, OCS strongly emphasizes the importance of having more than one plan especially if you are considering going internationally. Check out our slide deck with helpful information about what to do when plans change.

  • Strongly consider networking! Many people are telecommuting and may find themselves with more availability to talk to you about the company’s status.
  • Gain alumni insight to learn what the company is considering for short-term hires.

How to Make the Most of Your Summer Experience

Before you Start: Set Goals
Reflect on your upcoming experience: why did you choose it and what do you hope to gain?
Consider drafting a Learning Plan as a guide, which is described briefly in this short video to help …

By Yale Office of Career Strategy
Yale Office of Career Strategy
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Health & Safety Resources

It is important to be aware of the Yale resources available to you while you are pursuing activities outside of Yale. Before you leave campus, whether for summer-long travel, shorter vacation, or business trips, please install the International SOS travel …

By Yale Office of Career Strategy
Yale Office of Career Strategy
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Internship Checklist

Congratulations on securing your experience! Now it’s time to plan your experience to make the most of your professional development.

Before Your Experience

Consider creating goals, which will assist with initial conversations with your supervisor, and serve as a guide …

By Yale Office of Career Strategy
Yale Office of Career Strategy
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List of Summer Housing Resources

The following tips and list of housing resources by City are compiled annually based on referrals from Yale students and alums.

When starting your housing search, check with classmates and friends who will be in the same area as you …

By Yale Office of Career Strategy
Yale Office of Career Strategy
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McDougal Career Fellows

Applications are now closed! Please visit back in February 2024. 

McDougal Career Fellows are GSAS students who serve as your ambassadors to the Office of Career Strategy. Career Fellows collaborate with OCS staff, student organizations, other Yale offices, alumni and …

By Jacob Gonzalez
Jacob Gonzalez Senior Associate Director, Graduate and Postdoctoral Career Services
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Featured Resources


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