Photo Courtesy of Mandy Yeh

Photo Courtesy of Mandy Yeh

It’s summertime—and for many of us, the perfect time to for an internship. However, for those of you who are too young to intern, or for one reason or another couldn’t land the internship of your dreams, don’t stress. With these alternatives, a productive summer is within your reach.

Take a Part-time Job

Unlike unpaid internships, which experts now estimate make up a fourth to a half of existing internships, part-time jobs guarantee you money in the bank. This is a major plus for those of you who are feeling the pinch of college tuition costs or just want extra spending money without having to bug your parents. In addition, the flexibility of a part-time job makes it easy to tackle other activities on your off days, such as summer school classes.

One of the best places to start looking for a part-time job is at your own school. Take initiative and visit your campus career center or administrative office to find out what student positions are offered during the summer. Whether it’s tutoring, working as an office or library assistant, conducting academic research or coordinating summer school programs, you’re bound to find something worthwhile. If school is the last place you want to be during the summer (totally understandable), check out job listings in your local city on Craigslist—many retail stores and restaurants look specifically for seasonal hires over the summer.

Volunteer at a Local Nonprofit Organization

For those of you who have charitable hearts and want to give back to the community, there are many nonprofit and neighborhood organizations that seek volunteers over the summer. High school students can inquire about volunteer opportunities at the local pet shelter, hospital, medical clinic, church, library, soup kitchen or senior care home. These places are usually more than happy to accommodate extra help. For college students, there are a number of opportunities you can explore to lend a helping hand while also getting paid. Many nonprofits offer paid positions as grant writers, event organizers, fundraising assistants and communications coordinators.

Idealist.org is a terrific resource to search for volunteer opportunities and nonprofit internships in your area. You can even narrow down your search by nonprofit industry, such as the environment, urban affairs and the arts. VolunteerMatch.com is another website that easily allows you to search for volunteer jobs. In addition, the incredibly innovative site DoSomething.org asks the simple but straightforward questions: What causeWho withWhere? and How long? to automatically suggest a list of prospective projects suited to your needs.

Take a Service Trip Abroad

For you adventurers who crave travel or want to take a walk outside of your comfort zone, summer is really the perfect time to take a service trip abroad. If you’re in high school, find out what programs your school offers. For example, each summer my high school would send students to rural schools in China to teach English. In college, the opportunities to serve abroad grow exponentially, especially through on-campus organizations. Habitat for Humanity sends groups of student volunteers to underprivileged countries to build houses and Christian fellowships will help send members abroad for missionary work. If money is an issue, organizations like these may offer scholarships—so keep your eyes and ears peeled for the right opportunity. Read about Mochi writer Esther Suh’s own eye-opening service trip experience here.

Tackle a Unique Personal Project

Maybe you don’t want a job this summer, which is perfectly fine. Why not take on a personal project? Art students and journalists can use this extra time to create a quality online portfolio—it’ll serve as an accessible place to store and view your work, in addition to giving you a professional edge for your future job search. Anyone can start a blog on platforms such as tumblr.composterous.com or wordpress.com, redecorate your room, or pick up a new hobby or skill. I took up crocheting one summer, spent two weeks making a huge blanket and then ended up donating it to charity. Take a visit to your local craft store or Ben Franklin’s, and I guarantee that just by walking through the store, you’ll be inspired to try something new. Or maybe you just want to accomplish something simple, like catching up on all the books you’ve wanted to read. Check out our top 10 summer books list for a great place to start!

Still stumped? Here is a list of other ideas and websites to keep you occupied and hopefully inspire larger ideas for projects over the summer.

etsy.com – Are you an aspiring craftmaker/artist/photographer/fashion designer? Start selling goods to create a name for yourself and earn some cash. Etsy makes it devastatingly simple, and the simple interface and user friendly site makes it a joy to browse through other seller’s items. Just don’t spend too much money!

Academicearth.org – Want to learn about a new subject but don’t want to shell out the money for summer school or make the large time commitment? This site offers free online video lectures taught by top Ivy League professors, where you can learn about everything from philosophy to entrepreneurship for free.

Foodnetwork.com – Why not use this summer to improve your culinary skills, especially for those of you heading out to college? I like Food Network‘s quick and easy recipes—the lemon chicken pasta was delicious and easy for me to whip up. Invite your friends over to help you or treat your parents to days off from cooking.

Freerice.com – Test your vocabulary knowledge while donating rice to feed the hungry— the more you play, the more rice you donate. Plus, you’ll be increasing your future SAT critical reading score.