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Thursday, March 4, 2021

Campus

Pandemic alters internships for students seeking experience


Gerald Sastra/The Cougar

Gerald Sastra/The Cougar

For some students, internships have remained hard to find during the pandemic.  

Students have worked hard to adjust to online classes. Along with their course load, many students seek experiential learning opportunities outside of the virtual classroom through internships to enhance their portfolios and to prepare themselves for the workforce.

But complications caused by COVID-19 have halted or changed internships. 

“I have not found an internship, and it’s been really hard because there’s less opportunities to network with people in person due to (COVID-19),” said marketing and supply chain management junior Nina Joseph. “I am a person who thrives on speaking with people in person, so having to switch over to Zoom screens has been very challenging because of all the awkward social encounters that come with technology.” 

With pandemic-induced hiring freezes at companies she once desired to work for, Joseph’s perspective on her long-term goals has shifted. 

“I initially was undecided of what I wanted to do with my career, but seeing how companies were able to thrive in a global pandemic via phone and computer screens inspired me to figure out what I wanted to do, which is getting into digital marketing, specifically social media marketing,” Joseph said.  

“It made me fall in love with the idea of digital marketing even more because it’s so much more interactive, and you get to see people shed the stereotypical corporate lifestyle to interact with consumers,” Joseph added. 

For students seeking guidance when their initial internship or career plans don’t work out as expected, University Career Services can help them to discover what they want to do post-graduation and to connect with opportunities to help in achieving that goal. 

“A huge portion of what we do is experiential learning,” said Tiffany Bitting, associate director of UCS. “We’re really big on having students get internships, connect with professionals. So, we do a lot of meet and greets, a lot of prep weeks where we bring professionals to UCS, virtually to connect with students for all majors so that you can have your own little mini network.” 

By gaining internship experience throughout their college career, students have been able to nab prestigious internships at global companies that can further prepare them to join the workforce. 

Management information systems senior Rodrigo Alvarado scored an internship with Amazon as a project manager during the pandemic. Working remotely with other Amazon interns in his time zone, Alvarado attended daily webinars, received an online curriculum fitted to the program and presented a final project. 

Alvarado found it easier to secure his upcoming internship with McDonald’s after his experience with Amazon. 

“I went through three rounds of interviews, all virtually, and was supposed to be flown out to Chicago for the final round of interview, but sadly it was moved to a virtual setting due to (COVID-19) and I had to complete the final round from home. McDonald’s sent us $20 in UberEats credit to order some (McDonald’s) on our lunch breaks,” Alvarado said. 

Alvarado received an offer from McDonald’s for Summer 2021, although he has not received word about whether his internship will be in person or remote. 

Bitting suggests that students looking for an internship should create a resume and cover letter and attend the virtual sessions hosted by UCS. She also recommends students do their homework on an organization that they want to work for before applying. 

“The No. 1 feedback we’ve gotten from professionals in the industry is doing your research on the employer. Company research is key,” said Bitting. “We just strongly encourage students to learn about the company’s mission, their vision.”

For more of The Cougar’s coronavirus coverage, click here.

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