Internship cancelled, now what?

posted in: COVID-19 | 0

Q:  My summer internship was just cancelled because of COVID-19.  I am devastated.  I need to gain some work experience as I am a junior.  I went abroad this year so didn’t have the opportunity to work during the semester, like many of my classmates did.

A: Many students are scrambling to land a new internship, after having an internship cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here are some thoughts:

  1. Ask the company, who cancelled your internship, to consider a virtual internship. Many companies are now operating virtually.  Explain that you have completed your spring semester virtually and you are comfortable with working remotely.
  2. Develop a new strategy. Target companies who are hiring and who are seeing an uptick in their business because of this pandemic.  Think about Amazon, UPS, Zoom and Target.
  3. Put on a creative hat. Can you pitch your services to a number of companies?  Are you a whiz at social media?  Do you have skills in launching Salesforce?  Are you a LinkedIn guru?  You could sell your services to a number of different companies over the summer.  Many are calling these micro-internships.  This approach demonstrates grit, creativity and resourcefulness.
  4. Offer to volunteer. If your career interests are in horticulture, offer your services to a conservation organization in your town or city.  If your career interests are in social media, connect with a non-profit and ask them if you can assist with their social media presence over the summer.
  5. Update your LinkedIn profile. If you don’t have one, take the time to build one now.  Don’t make it a “thin” profile, with little more than a photo.  It should include a photo, but also a summary of who are you are as a candidate.  Recruiters are turned off by those with limited profiles.
  6. Use this summer to take an online class, improve your skills, design an app or learn how to code.
  7. Check out covintern.com, a brilliant idea launched by a college student.
  8. Confirm your college’s requirements. Many colleges had an internship requirement to graduate.  Haley Sinacole, a junior at Elon University, explained that her college may be offering some flexibility around this requirement.  In the past, virtual internships were not accepted but now Elon, like many colleges, may be re-considering this requirement.

Pay is always a factor when students are looking for internships or summer jobs.  But experience and new contacts are also important.  Internships can sometimes lead to full-time roles upon graduation.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole is a human resources expert and works for First Beacon Group in Hopkinton, an HR consulting firm. She contributes weekly to Boston.com Jobs and the Boston Sunday Globe Money & Careers section.