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Internship cancelled by COVID-19? Here’s how to make the most of your summer

Career • May 1, 2020 • Connor Peoples


What you’ll learn

  • How to adjust to changing environments
  • How to land a remote internship
  • How to get ahead of your peers


The last few weeks have been filled with change for college students. The traditional higher education environment is evolving almost daily in light of COVID-19. Colleges have moved their classes online, commencement ceremonies are being postponed, and the plans for summer internships are up in the air.

Some companies, like Sallie Mae, Google, and Fifth Third Bank, are moving their internship programs completely online, making them shorter, or delaying their start dates.

Unfortunately, but not unexpected, companies are also completely cancelling their summer internship programs. If you get the news that your summer internship program has been cancelled, here are a few tips to make the most of your time away from school:

Ask to intern remotely

If you find out that your internship has been cancelled, don’t be afraid to show initiative and ask your internship provider about an option of interning from home. Although some employers have completely shut down their programs, you may be surprised what asking can do for you. Even if your employer doesn’t have a defined plan in place to let interns work from home, your initiative could trigger some additional ideas and opportunities from them.

In fact, according to a recent “Coronavirus Quick Poll” from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), 29% of responding employers reported they will conduct their internship programs virtually this summer. This number is up from 2.4% that reported such plans in the last week in March.

Before you ask to intern remotely, it’s important to put together enough information to help you build a convincing case for your intern coordinator to give you the green light. Have you worked for the company before? If this is your second or third go ‘round, bring up your past experiences and accomplishments within the organization. Give examples of how you can do the same job, with more responsibilities, from home.

If this is your first time interning with the company, think of what else may make an online opportunity suitable. For example, can you offer flexible hours that may benefit them? Sometimes companies put together reports or presentations earlier in the morning to help management tackle the upcoming workday, or later at night to help plan for the next business day. Showing that you’re willing to be flexible could help you land a remote opportunity.

Apply to remote internships

If your internship employer cancelled their programs this summer, and working from home is not an option, there is still time to find online-specific internships opportunities available for students looking to gain experience remotely.

Some of the popular job posting sites like Indeed, ZipRecruiter, and Internships.com, all have postings specifically for remote internships. There are even companies, like Virtual Internships, who partner with organizations around the world to help you land the perfect remote internship, regardless of where you live.

Whether you’re applying for an internship position in coding, copyediting, bookkeeping, or data analytics, remote opportunities can be yours for the taking, you just need to do your research and find them. And if you earn yourself an interview for a remote internship and need some pointers to ace your interview, check out some virtual interview tips.

As long are you have a computer or laptop, a strong Wi-Fi signal, and a reliable place to work, working an online internship can be a great fit.

Start your own project

If you’re still having a difficult time finding the right internship, or if you’d like to make the most of your summer and do something in addition to your job, look into starting your own project. Whether you have a passion for fashion, a knack for nutrition, or you enjoy helping others, don’t be afraid to get creative and show it!

Let’s say you take pride in your outfits every day and love to express your sense of style. Why not start your own fashion blog using WordPress or Instagram? By starting your own blog, you can show the fashion industry your creative voice, your own personality, and your taste in fashion. You can create own opportunities to get yourself noticed!

Do you enjoy researching different foods and how their ingredients affect changes within your body? Try reaching out to your school’s career services or registrar’s office to see if any professors need help with nutritional research over the summer. By working with a professor in a field that aligns with your passion, and maybe even your major, you could potentially earn college credits and even extra $$$. It’s also a great opportunity to expand your network and build a relationship with a potential mentor.

In wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are people all over the world in need of help. Start a project to collect canned foods, clothes, or hygiene products for those in need. You could also put together a group of volunteers that spend each week virtually connecting with individuals who could benefit from online visitation (example: nursing homes or hospitals). Although your project may not be tied directly to your major or career path, it can still show potential employers your ability to strategically put together a plan and showcase your management and leadership skills.

Get Ahead

You can also use your summer months to get a head start on schoolwork. With the ability to focus on your more difficult classes, smaller class sizes, and the opportunity to graduate faster, summer classes are a great option to get ahead.

Above all else, make sure you’re productive this summer and spend the majority of your time investing in yourself. Obviously, it’s okay to take some time to relax and decompress from the busy school year. That’s what summers are for, right? But, if your future employer asks you how you spend your summer, you want to make you can show them that personal growth was your priority.


Connor is a Sallie Mae employee and a graduate of the University of Delaware. In his free time, you can find him cheering for Philadelphia’s professional sports teams and exploring the world with his dog, Moose.


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