If you are a new graduate or student who feels like their summer internship plans are in limbo due to the COVID-19 outbreak, you are not alone. Usually at this time, people would be searching for, applying to and confirming their summer internships across the country. However, as they move online to finish their school year and consider the next step of their career this summer, students are facing unprecedented uncertainty.
The impact of COVID-19 on students and graduates looking for internships
It may not surprise you to learn that many graduates and students are finding it difficult to make plans a few weeks or months ahead. The spread of the new coronavirus has disrupted regular routines and upcoming plans on a global scale. Normal actions like applying for summer internships may feel strange or far more challenging than you may have expected in this new environment.
Internships are traditionally one of the most popular ways to try out a potential career path and get real-life work experience. However, as students and graduates navigate their summer break during the coronavirus outbreak, it may not be surprising that interest in summer internships has decreased. In mid-March, clicks on internship opportunities, one way to gauge applicant interest on Indeed, were 21% lower than the same time last year.
Summer internship opportunities during the COVID-19 outbreak
As a student or new graduate, you may also be wondering whether fewer summer internship opportunities are being offered by employers in response to the coronavirus spread. It seems that employers are also adjusting and responding to this unprecedented situation. Fewer internships were available on Indeed in early March compared to the number of internship postings from previous years, which have traditionally peaked in late March and early April.
While summer internships are still being offered remotely and online, internships are just one of several ways you can build professional skills and relationships as a student or graduate. Opportunities are still available to you if you are interested and able to pursue them this summer.
The best ways to find internship alternatives during the outbreak
If you are unsure how to find a summer internship or an internship alternative during the new coronavirus outbreak, consider these options:
Search for remote summer internships globally, nationally, and locally
While the number of summer internships being offered is lower than in previous years, internships are still being offered by employers which you can apply for. Search for seasonal internships using terms like “remote,” “virtual,” or “online” in your field of interest or by employer. Remote summer internships are still a great way to gain experience and find future opportunities through internal recruitment and industry connections.
Applying for a remote seasonal internship may also open opportunities that had not been as accessible to you before the coronavirus spread. As virtual internships open, you may be able to apply for summer work that is offered by international, national, and non-local companies. If you choose to apply for online internships, consider applying for a wider range of opportunities than you may have considered previously, as long as you are qualified for the role.
Find an interim job to improve skills and qualifications for your future career
Depending on your personal and financial situation, you may want to consider applying for interim jobs instead of a summer internship in your area of interest. If you are mentally, physically, and emotionally available to work, there are employers who are actively hiring remote and in-person candidates in response to the spread of the coronavirus.
While these available jobs may not be what you planned for this summer, finding seasonal employment can help support you financially during this time of uncertainty until you can find the right internship opportunity. Finding an interim job that you are able to do could also help you gain a competitive advantage in your future career, even if the job is not aligned with your intended career path.
Being able to find work now could help show future employers that you are adaptable, humble, and able to overcome unprecedented challenges like the novel coronavirus outbreak. Future employers may also be impressed that you do not have an employment gap on your resume at this time. You can also use an interim job to improve qualifications on your resume. Real work experience, transferable skills, and soft skills like complex problem solving, remote communication, and time-sensitive work which are common to these interim jobs can help support your career, no matter what you plan for your future career.
Consider professional development and ongoing education opportunities (but consider added debt)
If your focus for a summer internship was professional development and real-life learning experience, you may want to consider other educational opportunities available to you. Using this summer to improve your academic qualifications is a common response to uncertainty, as the implicit cost of education could be lower. Improving your educational qualifications could support your career in the future if this option is available to you.
When thinking about what education options are right for you, be wary of added debt and focus on educational experiences that are likely to be affordable and advantageous for your unique situation. Costs for professional and academic development opportunities vary, from free to high investment options. Do research on grants, scholarships, financial aid, and COVID-19 relief measures at a national, provincial/territorial, and local level before committing to added education right now. You might also explore free remote courses and certifications on sites such as Khan Academy or Coursera, or those offered by your state or local academic institutions.
Look to online networking to make connections and connect with like-minded people
If your summer internship goal was to improve your industry network and learn more about your area of specialization, look into online networking to meet like-minded people and create space for potential opportunities. Many industries already populate specific online networks, such as scientist groups on Twitter or active web developer forums. These networks will become more important as social distancing measures continue.
Create professional social accounts on the networks that are appropriate for your field or future career path. Make connections, ask for remote informational interviews, and meet people who share your interests and career goals online instead of in-person.