Finding Internships and Jobs Before and After COVID-19

Updated July 13, 2023

If you're a new graduate or student who feels like your summer internship plans were in limbo due to the COVID-19 outbreak, you're not alone. Now the pandemic has become less of a global concern, many people have applied to and confirmed their summer internships across the country. Although, the pandemic has caused some changes, such as causing many programs to move online. Learning about the status of internships after the COVID-19 pandemic may help you prepare for the next steps of your career. 

In this article, we discuss the impact of COVID-19 on students, explore remote internship programs and examine some of the best ways to find internships following the pandemic.

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The impact of COVID-19 on students and graduates looking for internships

It may not surprise you to learn that many graduates and students found it difficult to make plans a few weeks or months ahead during the pandemic. The spread of the coronavirus disrupted regular routines and upcoming plans on a global scale. Normal actions like applying for summer internships felt 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. As students and graduates navigate their summer break following the coronavirus outbreak, they may come to find many new opportunities for in-person and remote internships. Though the pandemic may not have decreased the overall number of internships available today, it did change the way many companies hire and conduct business. Expect to utilize teleconferencing software, group messaging applications or other remote-friendly software when interviewing for and working at some internships. Other internships may use a hybrid model.

Related: Q&A: How To Get an Internship at Any Age

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 following the coronavirus spread. Employers previously adjusted and responded to this unprecedented situation, but many have since resumed their typical operations. There were fewer internships available on Indeed in early March 2020 compared to the number of internship postings from earlier years, but those numbers have since improved and have surpassed the total number of internships from previous years.

While there are still summer internships being offered remotely and online, internships are just one of several ways you can build professional skills and relationships as a student or graduate. There are still opportunities available to you if you're interested and able to pursue them.

Related: How To Find an Internship at a Hospital (Plus Skills To Succeed)

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The best ways to find internship alternatives following the outbreak

If you're unsure how to find a summer internship or an internship alternative following the 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, there are still internships being offered by employers for which you can apply. Search for seasonal internships using terms like “remote," “virtual” or “online” in your field of interest. 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 work 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's offered by international, national and non-local companies. If you choose to apply for online intern work, consider applying for a wider range of opportunities than you may have considered previously, as long as you're qualified for the role.

Related: How To Explain Employment Gaps Due to COVID-19

Find a job to improve skills and qualifications for your future career

Depending on your personal and financial situation, you may want to consider applying for jobs instead of a summer internship in your area of interest. If you're mentally, physically and emotionally available to work, there are employers actively hiring remote and in-person candidates. 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 can do could also help you gain a competitive advantage in your future career.

Finding work now could help show future employers that you're adaptable, humble and able to overcome unprecedented challenges like the novel coronavirus outbreak. You can also use an interim job to improve the qualifications on your resume. Real work experience, transferable skills and soft skills like complex problem solving, remote communication and time-sensitive work common in these interim jobs can help support your career, no matter what you plan for your future career.

Related: SURVEY: COVID-19 Impact on Households and Careers

Consider professional development and ongoing education opportunities (but consider added debt)

If your focus on a summer internship was professional development and real learning experiences, you might 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. Professional and academic development opportunities range from free to high-investment options. Research grants, scholarships and financial aid. You might also explore free remote courses and certifications offered online or by your state or local academic institutions.

Related: 20 Interview Questions Regarding COVID To Ask an Employer

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.

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.

Related: The Hidden Worker: How Long Covid Impacts the Job Market

Consider volunteering or joining professional organizations

Volunteering can be a great way to gain experience, skills and make connections following the pandemic. Consider volunteering with local organizations or online opportunities that align with your interests or career goals. Volunteer work can demonstrate your willingness to give back to the community, which can also demonstrate leadership skills and may impress future employers. Volunteering can also help you explore different career paths and develop new skills outside of your area of interest. 

Additionally, joining a professional organization and attending its events can be a great way to network and make valuable connections. Attending professional events can also help you gain insights into industry trends and learn from experts. Many professional organizations have moved their events online, making it easier than ever to attend from anywhere.

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