KUALA LUMPUR, 21.10.2021. Landing a college internship has always been challenging for students. But when the pandemic hit, employers were forced to cancel internship programs or move them online, making it harder for students as their internship opportunities dried up.
According to job site Glassdoor, half of the internship opportunities were cancelled. By spring 2021, only 22% of students stated they had an internship during the school year, half of which was conducted in-person.
Internships are crucial for students, especially to build connections that could land them their first job. However, the competition for internships was only intensified by the number of students who couldn’t get an internship last year – combined with the students who were looking for internship programs this year.
Despite the severe lack of graduate programs, several companies have banded together to connect students with employers or part-time learning opportunities.
Parker Dewey, for instance, offered their services as an internship platform to help students apply to short-term, paid projects by employers. These were also known as micro-internships and was one of the few companies that offered virtual internship programs to students amidst the pandemic.
A similar company, Handshake, also offered their platform to help college students and graduates land internships by connecting them with over 500,000 employers. They collaborated with 1,000 colleges to offer virtual career fairs and reach out to prospective students to help them find virtual opportunities.
To date, Handshake has conducted more than 3,000 of these digital events.
“Hosting these events virtually do come with benefits,” Christine Cruzvergara said, Chief Strategy Officer at Handshake. “Employers are able to recruit a more diverse group of students to attend fairs where normally, they wouldn’t be able to travel.”
She went on to add that the virtual trend was expected to stay.
“As we emerge out of the pandemic, the big question here is what makes the most sense to be virtual and what makes sense to be in person.”
Additionally, some colleges are also tapping into local networks in order to create remote internship opportunities for students. The University of Maryland, for example, launched their first virtual digital marketing internship when the pandemic first hit.
At that time, college students were facing difficulties as internships were scarce. The exporting industry was also facing a crisis as the pandemic had disrupted the supply chain process. Hence, the University of Maryland saw an opportunity to link interns with local export companies who needed manpower to work on social media marketing and website analytics.
The joint partnership even managed to get the program approved for a grant from the state’s ecommerce department, which helped to fund costs for employers. The university successfully drew more than 100 student applications in the first summer, with a total of 24 interns participating in the program. This summer, the number increased to 30.
Rebecca Bellinger, executive director of the Center of Global Business within the University of Maryland, mentioned that it was these kinds of programs that had sticking power.
“There’s going be more demand for this kind of flexibility in the workforce, especially among students,” she said.
As the world slowly opens up and makes a gradual return to normalcy, no doubt that there will be more remote opportunities for companies and students alike.
Eduloco is Asia’s leading study abroad platform that assists students to apply to top-ranking universities overseas.