Internships are now considered a trademark of the young adult experience, providing students with the experience needed for them to thrive in the post-graduate workforce. A 2017 report by the National Association of Colleges and Employers Center for Career Development & Talent Acquisition found that internships help sharpen career direction and develop workplace connections that enhance one’s employability following graduation. It was also noted that those who had a relevant job or internship in school were twice as likely to find a job after graduation.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic currently sweeping across the country, many companies are opting to cancel summer opportunities such as internships and fellowships in accordance with the Center for Disease Control’s order to shelter-in-place. Many students had planned to move to new cities this coming summer, but have had to ultimately change their plans due to shut downs. New York, Boston and Philidelphia, all popular summer internship locations, are at the epicenter of the crisis.
Some major companies including Amazon, Microsoft, Lyft, Google and American Expresses have opted for the “remote” track for their summer programs for students. Other companies have decided to cancel their student programs altogether, as the cost to continue these programs is too strenuous on financial resources during this uncertain time.
The pandemic has brought major economic downturns worldwide, causing uncertainty to students who are staring down graduation.
Many students have been left frustrated as these cancellations have put a damper on their plans to obtain experience in their academic fields this summer. This also leads to worry about how this is going to affect job searches once this all washes over.
Patrick Curtis, the CEO and founder at Wall Street Oasis, emphasized in a LinkedIn post that students should still include these canceled internship programs in their resumes and cover letters.
“I review resumes as part of my job, and this fall if I see someone write “Planned to complete internship, but internship was canceled due to COVID-19, I will certainly sympathize with them and give them credit for it,” he noted, emphasizing that employers must understand that students are currently being held back by a global pandemic that got in their way. He concluded, stating that “it doesn’t hurt to note these canceled opportunities in your “Education” section because this is not something that was your fault.”
Others like Carlos Mark Vera have taken a stand for students during this hard time. Vera is a co-founder of Pay Our Interns, a non-profit organization that advocates for an increase in the amount of paid internships. The group has recently launched the #SaveInternships campaign, aimed at saving the nearly 1 million internships that will be canceled this summer as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Vera has been encouraging larger companies and organizations that may not be facing the same financial hits as other smaller businesses to continue investing in the talent of students, urging them to explore options for remote work so these students can continue to obtain experience.
“There are a lot of unknowns,” Vera recently said in an interview with Teen Vogue. “I think one thing that we can make an impact in is ensuring that our generation has the opportunities to thrive.”
Though this stands as an inherently stressful time, it’s important for students to remain optimistic and know that they are not alone, and others are looking out for them in an era of such confusion.