Covid killed my internship: what do I do now?

Photo by Studio Republic on Unsplash

Getting an internship during covid-19 is like winning the lottery, it’s rare and when you get it, it’s a real prize. But that’s no reason to worry. Lost your internship? Here is the solution.

Harpreet, a third-year BA English student at the University of York had plans to put aside her final year for an internship at CNN. She had gotten to the assessment stage when the company announced that further steps would be postponed until May.

It was March, and in May a second email suggested that it would be postponed further.

Harpreet waited until summer when she contacted CNN to find out what was happening. The internship had been cancelled.

“So annoyed.” That’s how Harpreet felt. She had delayed her plans for a year and was now having to rethink her next academic year.

She’s had to hastily start prep to go back to her degree; sending “emails to [her] department and the accommodation and placement officers” all the while catching up with summer work set by lecturers. Work, that with the prospect of an internship, she had no plans of doing.

Harpreet assumed it would be safer to move out of her shared house in York and apply for her on-campus accommodation. It was a backup that meant that if the placement fell through, she’d be paying more monthly, but she’d be safe.

She had even shown new students round her bedroom with plans to move back home to East London.

Design by Sam Tabahriti

Harpreet is one of many students facing cancelled internships in the midst of the pandemic. A survey by prospects luminate found that of the 1200 final year students who responded over a quarter (26.1 per cent) had lost work placements or internships as a result of Covid-19.

These concerning stats come along with news that within the past year the number of internships has dropped by a staggering 64 per cent.

For Companies that haven’t resumed office work or have issues social distancing the pandemic may mean they won’t be offering internships for a while. So where can you go from here?

Are virtual internships the new deal?

Many places that haven’t cancelled or postponed their internships have moved to a new method of working, virtual or remote internships.

These have their upsides, flexible hours that allow you to balance work and studies, and in a Covid-19 world, are a safer alternative to your average internship.

Sankavee, a final year BSc economics student at LSE got to the final stage of her RBS application process before “they decided to cancel it.”

She was swiftly able to find a new placement. Her new internship with Knight Frank, however, was a little unorthodox.

“They cancelled their in-person internship and did a visual insight which is a lot less hands-on and [more] technical.”

Sankavee says she “definitely didn’t get the same experience” but she’s “grateful that it was made virtual… because a lot of friends had it completely cancelled.”

If the initial internship had gone ahead, she would have been paired up with an employee, meeting clients and getting involved in cases.

It wasn’t the same, going online, but Sankavee still had the opportunity to network and gained some great insight into the industry. For that, she couldn’t complain.

Companies such as Sony Music, Santander, FIFA and even the UK Parliament now offer remote internships. Find more at The Intern Group.

Is the pandemic creating new internship opportunities?

Internships still may be in short supply, but it’s not all bad news. The pandemic has created new Covid-19 focused internship opportunities for students including the University of Bristol’s fully funded 100 internships to support local businesses and the University of Sussex’s Covid-19 Response internship programme.

It’s what The University of Sussex calls backing for “organisations who are responding to the challenges of coronavirus, making a difference to social, economic, environmental, cultural and/or health and wellbeing recovery from the Covid-19 crisis.”

It’s likely that other universities will follow suit, with institutions like the University of Exeter which is working with employers to provide remote work experiences and University UK calling for greater support for graduates through paid internships.

Is it time to take a break? 

Maybe it’s even time to take a break from internship applications. The pandemic provides the perfect opportunity to learn new skills, edit your CV or even go into further study.

Once concerns around Covid-19 begin to ease and internship openings begin to increase you’ll be even more qualified and prepared to go into some industry work. And hopefully, smash it!

Words: Leah Trimmer | Subbing: Sam Tabahriti

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