Dear Students,

As we enter the home stretch of the spring semester, we know that many of you may be looking ahead to the summer and seeking ideas of how to spend your time in the midst of COVID-19. Some of you may have had your summer plans cancelled or otherwise impacted, and our team is here to support you as you explore alternate plans.

Our team has gathered a variety of resources and ideas that can help you gain knowledge relevant to your field, develop skills, and grow your network – from anywhere!

We’re also closely collaborating with employers and faculty to create additional virtual opportunities you can participate in this summer.

Read on to learn about a variety of options! Pick and choose the ones that seem most interesting to you, and design your own summer experience. And, as always, reach out to our career advisors to discuss your personal situation.


Julia Lapan, Director of Engineering Career Development

Expand your knowledge and skills with online courses, trainings, and webinars.

Learn skills on demand with LinkedIn Learning and access courses and tutorials on numerous topics (including Tableau, iOS development, CAD, and more). LinkedIn Learning also offers video training on hundreds of academic and industry topics (e.g., electrical engineering, design thinking, mechanical engineering, data visualization, etc.).

Through Coursera for UVA, you have free access to diverse courses and training. Additionally, in response to COVID-19, you’ll find more free courses on Coursera’s central website (in addition to the regular menu of fee-based courses). At the moment, free classes aren’t labeled as such in search results, so be sure to click on individual courses of interest to see if they’re free (like this beginners bioinformatics course or industrial biotechnology class).

O'Reilly for Higher Education offers free access to books, as well as videos, case studies, and self-directed learning paths. Explore topics like data, design, business, hardware, software development, and multiple disciples within engineering. 

UVA is expanding the number of courses available for the upcoming summer session and will include some student-taught courses, which will be offered for free. In addition, the UVA Library has an archive of recent workshops they've hosted on research and data computing skills (e.g., Intro to R, Data Visualization in R, etc.), most of which are suitable for self-study and free to download. 

If you’re a student member of a professional association (like AIChE for chemical engineering), review your association’s website for upcoming (and archived) webinars and other educational opportunities. For example, AIChE offers free technical skills and knowledge training to student members.

And, many employers and skill-building websites are currently offering free materials and training. Check out Google’s Guide to Technical Development, Tableau training (through June), free options with Udemy (tech skills like Git, AWS, Linux, and more), 1 year of free access to Packt if you sign up by May 31 (web development, data science, programming languages), 30 day free access to Udacity (AI, cloud computing, and more), Google coding competitions, and Apple’s Guide for building a basic UI.

We’ll be sure to update this post with more opportunities as we learn of them.

Tackle a project (or two).

You frequently work individually or in teams to complete course projects. Consider continuing a project you started in the classroom or lab this year, either independently or with a group. Need ideas? Think about a project you enjoyed and ask the professor for suggestions on how you could take it a step further.

Teaching yourself a new skill this summer? Show off what you learned by creating something with it. Additionally, if your internship was cancelled due to COVID-19, ask the employer if they have recommendations on things you could teach yourself, read about, or practice this summer.

Want to hone your coding skills with projects you can start today? Check out this list of ideas to get started. Or join Hack Your Own to collaborate on open source projects with peers while receiving mentorship and guidance from experienced developers.

We’re also partnering with employers, alumni, and faculty to identify projects you can engage with this summer. We shared an initial list of projects hosted by faculty via email on April 28th and will share weekly or bi-weekly updates throughout the summer.

Investigate micro-internships and other remote work.

Micro-internships offer you an opportunity to work remotely, explore your interests, develop skills, and earn money through short-term, project-based assignments.

Propel is a program open to rising 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Years of all majors. Propel participants engage in real-world projects from consulting employers and Charlottesville startups, addressing a wide variety of business challenges. You’ll work in teams of 5 on a series of challenges, each lasting two weeks, with a chance to win prize money weekly. 

Parker Dewey offers year-round micro-internship opportunities with a variety of employers. Usually 20-50 micro-internships are open to apply to on any given day, and new opportunities are posted frequently. According to Parker Dewey, international students are eligible to participate – be sure to speak with Parker Dewey and UVA’s ISO to learn more. TIP: If you apply, answer the short-answer questions (e.g., “why do you think you would be a good fit for this position”) thoughtfully – the answers to these questions are a key factor in getting selected.

Paravane Ventures partners with early stage startups to offer paid internships, most of which are remote. Students of all majors and years are encouraged to apply to opportunities in Business, Engineering (software engineering and product management), and Design.

Be sure to check Handshake for new remote opportunities: general remote full-time and internships listings, Start-up Internships (15 hrs/week for 10 weeks), or Virtual Micro-Internships (12 hrs/week for 2 weeks).

You can also find remote opportunities on Intern from Home, and MindSumo (projects from top companies around the world), and STEM-Away (5-week sessions starting June 1 and July 6).

Explore your interests by connecting with alumni and other contacts.

Wishing you could learn more about what it’s really like to work in a career field of interest? Curious about the many ways engineers can apply their degrees – both directly and indirectly?

Talking to family, friends, faculty, or alumni is a great way to gather the information you need to make academic and career decisions! By chatting with people who have insight and experience, you’ll receive tips and advice that will help expand or narrow your options, whichever you need most.

First, we want to introduce you to two way to connect with alumni.

Through UVA’s Virginia Alumni Mentoring (VAM), you can contact an alum who volunteered to offer insights into their industry or field while offering guidance as you explore careers, apply for opportunities, and make decisions.

Second, LinkedIn offers a UVA Alumni Tool to learn the diverse academic and career paths of UVA Engineers. Filter by major as a student, current geographic location, employers (past and present), and industry. Browse profiles to gather ideas and consider reaching out to someone you'd like to learn from. TIP: Review more detailed guidance on reaching out to alumni on LinkedIn.

In addition to alumni, faculty members are an invaluable resource for exploring career ideas! Many of our faculty have industry work experience, colleagues who work in industry, and relationships with alumni who are now working in your potential field or company of interest.

Curious who else you might know that can offer helpful guidance? Use the “5 Fs of Networking” to help generate a list of additional contacts.

When you’re ready to chat with someone about your career ideas, use our outreach templates to draft an invitation to connect. Then, select questions you'd like to use to guide the conversation by reviewing our tips on informational interviewing.

Carve out time for family and friends, hobbies, and wellness.

We know that many of you have expressed an interest in identifying ways to make the most of Summer 2020, and we trust that the ideas above will give you a variety of options to choose from.

While we wanted to provide career-related ideas for your summer, we don’t intend for you to engage in every option. In fact, taking time off and having periods of restful breaks is important.

Carve out time to read a non-academic book. Resume a hobby you haven’t had time for or start the one you always wished you could try. Connect with people you’re missing. Do something purely for fun – not because it would be a “resume booster”. Take the time you need for self-care, family, and wellness.

If you’d like to speak with a career advisor – about career-related topics or otherwise – our team is available throughout the remainder of the semester and summer. Email or schedule an appointment with us through Handshake.