How Coronavirus Has Changed Internships

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By now, almost every summer program has been cancelled or has shifted to a digital platform. Some universities report that their pre-college programs account for nearly 10% of their yearly revenue, and these cancellations will only add to the potentially jeopardizing financial ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic has been widespread, leaving over 26.4 million Americans out of work. For young people, including students gearing up for summer internships and soon-to-be college graduates, professional prospects have been disproportionately affected. Of the employers that are continuing with their internships, 75% have made at least one change to their internship program.

Internships for college students are among the job opportunities hard hit as a result of the coronavirus, with many offers abruptly rescinded and no offer of reimbursement. Many internships have been changed by being cancelled, postponed, or moved online.

A review from Yello, a career platform, finds that almost all students who had their internships cancelled were not provided with any form of repayment.

According to a new survey from the employment platform, Yello, that finds 64% of student internships that have been cancelled, did not provide any form of an alternative offer. Eleven percent of students said that they had been offered a postponed internship; 7% said they were guaranteed a final round interview next year; and 6% a full-time offer next year. Overall, a little over one-third of students taking the survey and who indicated they had a summer internship offer said it has since been cancelled.

Many students are feeling crushed. Seventy percent of the students said they were disappointed but understood the situation, while 26% said they were upset and downtrodden.

Some students said they were honored for having been chosen for the internship at all.  They are staying positive and hope that eventually, something will work out. Some have had their internships postponed rather than cancelled.

However, there are lucky ones whose internships have not been cancelled or postponed, and they would be paid for the full summer. Some employers are surveying interns to confirm that they all have access to the necessary technology, such as a computer, internet access, etc. Since the whole world has moved to online and remote work, it is required to have all the technology to remain productive. Of students who had internships changed to remote, a little more than half (51%) said they were just happy it was not cancelled, according to the Yello survey.

Jeffrey Moss, CEO, and founder of Parker Dewey, which helps connect employers and students, said this should not be a hopeless situation. “Employers don’t want to cancel these internships. So we are doing our best to help companies take their internships remote instead of completely cancelling,” Moss said. He said many hiring managers have worked with freelancers remotely, and although it isn’t exactly the same thing, remote internships are on the same playing field.

The Yello survey finds that a majority of interns who are working remotely (67%) favor daily 5- to 10-minute video check-ins, while 30% favored a weekly one-on-one as the method for communication with their managers. Seventy-two percent of students overall preferred the communication to include video.

Career experts say many students will be making a mistake if they leave a gap on their resume

Jason Weingarten, Yello CEO, and co-founder says that

“Students should put their cancelled internship on their resume or in a cover letter,” referring to the period between now and the fall internship and hiring season. “I suggest they put what they were going to do and just say they didn’t get the chance because of Covid-19.” He said these students need to be reminded that they did everything right: they networked, went to career fairs and corporate presentations, and aced the interview.

Promising news on companies still hiring

Many companies are hiring, especially in tech, financial services, engineering, and computer science, according to Handshake data. Handshake recently released a blog that lists 500 companies that are still hiring college students and new grads. Some of the companies hiring include the ones that have seen increased demand due to the massive shift to remote work. Though remote internships are not ideal but are among the ways in which the student job market is continuing.

What measures should be taken now

Despite the COVID-19 cancellations, students should try to explore the skills they may have learned in their summer plans. For example, students who were planning on conducting research or internships should continue to seek projects they can complete remotely. Students can take advantage of the plethora of online opportunities to explore their passions, so when pandemic ends, they remain competitive enough.

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