Career Planning

Summer Internships Go Virtual in Response to Coronavirus Outbreak

Kathryn Knight Randolph

April 21, 2020

Summer Internships Go Virtual in Response to Coronavirus Outbreak
Check out which employers are moving their summer internships online.
You can feel it in the air: people are starting to get antsy. The novelty of stay-at-home orders and social distancing has worn off. However, it’s more important now than ever to continue these practices in an effort to stem the Coronavirus outbreak for good. While some states are discussing reopening their economies in the next few weeks, others won’t take a hard look at reopening until the beginning or middle of summer. Just as these decisions impact things like getting groceries or simply walking through a park, they also affect summer internships and jobs. And though life is technically at a standstill right now, the future is not for many high school and college students. Fortunately, many companies across the country realize this, along with the reality that Coronavirus will likely impact how and where people work this summer. With that, employers have shifted their focus to provide virtual internships. Here is what that could look like:

More Companies Opt for Virtual Internships

Forbes reports that the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) has seen a gradual shift from on-site internships to virtual in the last few weeks. In March, 90% of employers were still planning to move forward with their standard internship programming. As of the beginning of April, that number has dropped to just 30%. According to NACE, 36% of employers will move internships online, compared to just 2.4% who reported they were making the shift during the last week of March. That still leaves a good number of employers who have not decided what to do with their summer internship programs.
Some may be pushing their internship start dates back, while others wait to see what happens over the next few weeks before making the final call. Whatever the case, the summer internship landscape is going to look drastically different this year.

Companies Migrating Toward Virtual Internships

Wall Street, which houses some of the more prestigious and sought-after summer internship experiences, has made some major changes already. The New York Times reports that Citigroup, Goldman and Sachs, and JP Morgan Chase are pushing back their start dates from early June to July 6. Despite the late start, interns will still be paid for the entirety of the time their programs were scheduled to run.
Morgan Stanley is shifting their internship program online, which is where most of their employees are working as well. JP Morgan’s investment banking internships will also take place online this year. Tech companies like Apple and Facebook are moving internships online, depending on which department students are slated to work in, according to GitHub. Some companies, like Google, have a more mixed response. GitHub states that User Experience and all Europe, Middle East and Asia IT internships have been completely cancelled. Software engineers, research and business interns will work remotely. Those interns who had yet to be placed will not move forward in the process because of hiring freezes at Google. For a comprehensive look at which companies are cancelling, postponing or going virtual with their summer internship programs, check out GitHub.

How Students Can Benefit from Virtual Internships

Between college campuses closing and graduation ceremonies getting postponed, it can seem as if every new response to Coronavirus is a real setback for students. But if we’ve learned anything during these last few weeks, we’ve learned that we can adapt; and summer internship programs are no different. NACE has packaged virtual internships to employers as a unique opportunity to really invest in students and thereby, pave a pathway of success for businesses as well. For one, NACE tells employers that remote work helps to create self-starters. Through virtual internships, students will learn how to communicate effectively and master their time management skills. It also allows for companies to hire from a wider talent pool. With regional location restrictions removed, employers can hire candidates from all over the country – not just those that can easily commute into the office. This type of experience can also boost productivity, states NACE. Interns can work on their own time without the distractions of other co-workers or a commute. Though all of the above is packaged to employers to show how great remote internships can be, the same benefits apply to students. Virtual interns will get the help they need to navigate projects but also the independence to complete projects on their own. The skills honed during this unprecedented season will be invaluable to students as they begin their first job out of college. Furthermore, students will not be limited by their geographic location. A student in rural Nebraska that may not have been able to afford the move to New York City or Silicon Valley for the summer has a shot at their dream internship as companies move their summer internship experiences online. But just like any internship experience, whether remote or in-person, students can use this summer to expand their network, build upon their skill sets, and learn how to work on a team. Though it may be different in very obvious ways, the same structural and foundational lessons will still apply. And those who seek out virtual internships this summer, will have a leg up on the competition next summer. So, what are you waiting for? Get started on your summer internship search now.

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