Internships and the Coronavirus Economy

The COVID-19 pause has not only affected the senior job search; it has also affected any King’s students looking for summer internships. Some have had internships secured, only to have them cancelled, delayed, reduced, or made remote. Others are still looking, with that process now having become much more complicated.

Here are some stats from two major organizations:

  • Handshake, the popular job search platform for students, surveyed 1,000 college students. It found that 30% of the juniors and seniors surveyed had their internships rescinded, 6% went virtual, and 14% were continuing as planned
  • The National Associate of Colleges and Employers found that 25% of employers were considering rescinding offers, 35% were delaying their internships, and 25% were changing to virtual internships.

The experience you get as a student in your internships—whether during the summer or during the school year—is vital. There are two strategies you can use to keep from missing out on this experience.

First, keep looking. There are still some opportunities out there, and I’ve listed a few below to help. Second, create substitute experiences—from increasing your involvement in company events (now done virtually), engaging in training opportunities, all the way to creating your own internship.

Taking the initiative upon yourself to create a portfolio of substitute experiences will impress potential future employers and build your skills. And that is the goal in the absence of the ability to have an actual internship: find other ways to build your skills and real-world interactions, and you can avoid the fallout from a lost opportunity for a summer internship.

Here are some opportunities for internships and creative substitutes to help you find alternatives to get the experience, skills, and resume building that you need over the summer. It is possible to turn this unexpected challenge into a great opportunity that will truly advance your own development and impress employers.

Summer Internships that Are Open Right Now

Last I checked, these were still open:

Creative Internship Substitutes

Pick several ideas from the following groupings to create a portfolio of training and interactive experiences to rival what you would have gained from an internship.

Do More Recruiting Events (Virtually)

Many companies are increasing their engagement with students during this time through more virtual events. 

Goldman Sachs is the best example of this. They have opened up their virtual events to students from all colleges. This is an outstanding opportunity for King’s students to begin interacting with a premier employer, in a way that may not have been possible before.

Find their online recruiting events here: https://recruiting360.avature.net/candidates (note: you have to create an account). 

Morgan Stanley doesn’t seem to have opened up their virtual events yet, but you can still keep an eye on their internship openings and programs for undergraduates. They also have some great resources with advice for your job search in general—now would be a great opportunity to take time to review resources like these and build your career management skills.

Whatever your preferred industry—whether it is finance, media, marketing, consulting, the arts, non-profit management, government, or anything else—identify your favorite companies and review their websites to see what new virtual events and opportunities they may be offering at this time.

Enroll in Some Training Opportunities

The Moving Picture Institute is offering an incredible cinematography workshop. It is in the fall, but this is an excellent opportunity for anyone interested in film.

For those pursuing finance, you can do the Financial Modeling and Valuation Analyst Certification online—or pursue any of the many other online courses they provide

Self directed learning shows initiative and helps you develop the skill of continual learning that you will need through your entire career. Other resources for developing skills on your own include the online courses offered at Coursera, Udemy, and Skillshare.

Why not learn to code? Python is the place to start—if you learn Python, you have a head start in learning every other language. This can help get you access to the proliferation of technology jobs, and is also an asset for those going into finance. As the book Python for Finance summarizes, “The financial industry has adopted Python at a tremendous rate recently, with some of the largest investment banks and hedge funds using it to build core trading and risk management systems.” You can learn coding at codecademy

All of these training opportunities and courses you take can go on your resume.

Develop an Awesome Reading Plan

Remember that reading is also a major component of self-directed learning. Sometimes, it is the most efficient and interesting. While quite an ambitious idea, if you devoted eight hours a day to professional development reading over the summer, you would become an outstanding expert in your field and job success. 

I created a list of some of the best books on the crucial soft skills for workplace success for the internship for credit students this semester who had their internship hours reduced. That list can be a good place to start

And don’t forget the importance of developing a deeper understanding of your faith. It would serve you immensely to spend extra time this summer going deep with books like JI Packer’s Knowing God, Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology, William Lane Craig’s Reasonable Faith, and John Piper’s The Pleasures of God

Create Your Own Internship

Perhaps the pinnacle would be to make your own internship. Create a systematic plan of study and experiences on your own that build your skills and resume outside of an internship.

Included in this could be many of the ideas above, as well as other things such as:

  • Volunteer
  • Organize an effort with your neighbors to help those affected by the economic shut-down
  • Pitch your own internship to a company. As one person has said, “Plenty of companies will use this down time to do some administrative ‘spring cleaning’ they’ve been meaning to get to for years, for example. Propose the idea, offer your services, and you might just get the job.”
  • Create your website and start a blog (both excellent things for your personal branding—a key skill for effective career management)
  • Offer to manage a website or social media for a local non-profit, church, or start-up
  • Conduct more informational interviews with professionals (The People List can help)
  • Design an independent study for 3 credits (see the course catalog for details)

This is an Opportunity

If you are focused and disciplined, you can turn this into a summer of incredible learning. The opportunity to be self-directed is often one of the best ways to develop the stand-out skills you need. “Students who further their skills and competencies will stand out from other applicants who did not take the initiative during this time” (Laura Garcia).