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Summer internships uncertain as COVID-19 pandemic persists

Due to the spread of the novel coronavirus, many companies have begun to work remotely to protect their employees. While the multiple stay-at-home orders issued in different states are expected to be lifted before summer, many companies are changing their plans for interns and new hires.

Junior Stephanie Hamilton, an information systems and accounting double major, had to change her plans for this summer. Her 10-week internship with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) as a digital risk solutions intern in New York City was changed to a two-week remote program. 

Currently, New York City has more cases of coronavirus than any other city in the U.S., and experts worry the virus will not slow its spread by this summer.

“I was really bummed because this was going to be my first big internship experience,” Hamilton said.

PWC offered Hamilton a full-time job when she graduates, but without valuable internship experience, Hamilton said she missed out on learning more about the company. 

“I was excited about learning whether or not [working at PWC] was something I wanted to do,” Hamilton said. “I lose out on that experience, which I’m bummed about. But also, the more social aspect. You get to learn so much about a company when working with the people and learning from them. There’s a lot more than just a job and the salary that you’re missing out on.” 

Miami’s Center for Career Exploration and Success is working to help students during these uncertain times. The center has completely mobilized, offering virtual career fairs and online meetings for advising. The center has also connected with students by going live on Instagram with resources. 

Companies that are canceling programs contact Sharon Attaway, director of employer relations for the Career Center, who leads the employee relations team to cultivate partnerships with employers for Miami students. 

When the government, social services and nonprofit expo was canceled in March, Attaway organized a way for students to still pursue job opportunities in those fields. 

“What we did was create resume portfolios of all the students who had expressed interest in the event,” Attaway said. “Then, we sent those portfolios out to the 60 companies that were registered.”

Other companies are not canceling their internships, and many are still making offers to students even as they modify how those programs are being completed. 

Kaleigh Holcomb, a senior finance and supply chain double major, accepted an offer at Johnson & Johnson in its financial leadership and development program as an associate financial analyst. Holcomb is preparing for a virtual start in June. 

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“They have a really well-developed program, so they’ve been monitoring it really closely,” Holcomb said. “Officially there have been no changes, but they’re preparing us for a virtual start.”

Sophomore Cortlin Morris had a financial analysis internship with Holmes Murphy, an independent insurance brokerage. After originally delaying the internship program, the company canceled it altogether.

“They’re all working remotely right now, so they also don’t have the resources to onboard new people,” Morris said. “They gave me an official letter saying, ‘It’s not you, it’s us.’”

“They didn’t want to cancel [the internship],” Morris said. “I’m not mad at them because they had to do it.”

While Morris was worried about the possibilities of a change in her internship, she didn’t believe it would be canceled all together.

“I was a little taken aback, because you hear about people being laid off and let go, but you don’t think it’ll happen to you,” Morris said. “I thought there was no way, because [the company] is stable, but it didn’t hit me that the recession we’re going into had its hands in every industry.”

The Career Center keeps an updated list of companies that are still offering jobs in addition to virtual resume workshops for students on its website. Attaway recommends checking and to check for updates on other companies.