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How HR Leaders are Handling Summer Internships During COVID-19

As summer nears and Stay at Home mandates remain in place for many states, many companies are reconsidering the plausibility of their summer internship programs. If your organization is one of them, there are a few alternatives to consider.  

1. Cancel or delay internships 

For some companies, it may not be feasible to continue an internship program this summer. In that case, either the cancelation or tentative date change should be communicated sooner, rather than later. If unable to provide the internship as scheduledevaluate alternative ways you may be able to benefit those who were already offered an internship:  

  • Transition the program from a summer internship to projects during the fall semester for additional credit hours. 



  • Connect students with partner organizations who may be able to host virtual internships or volunteer opportunities. 


2. Provide a remote internship for students who already had offers extended  

Rather than rescind internship offers, some companies will host internshipvirtually for students who have already acceptedWhile unable to work directly alongside these interns, here are some alternative methods to offer them value and learning opportunities: 

  • Internships can be broken up into multiple projects with set deadlines to work on remotely. This provides interns the opportunity to learn accountability, time management and problem solve independently. 

  • Offer projects across multiple teams for interns to work alongside various managers. This allows them to adapt to various styles of leadership while cultivating different skillsets. 

  • Utilize interns to support managers with increased business demand and workload due to Coronavirus. Through this, interns can learn how a company reacts and adjusts its business practices in times of crisis and will learn flexibility in their role. 


 3. Provide virtual skill building opportunities 

If unable to assign interns projects virtually, consider adjusting your internship from a project-based program to remote learningBy assigning interns a company mentor and compiling a virtual bank of skill building resources, interns can learn about the industry and professional trends. As a company, you can use this program to cultivate positive relationships with career services at top universities while maintaining a pipeline of quality candidatesResources to offer include: 

  • Webinars and online training opportunities 

  • Third-party skill building classes 

  • Virtual interviewing and resume workshops 

  • Networking workshops / Opportunities  

  • Free classes  


 4. Modify the internship to a volunteer basis vs. paid  

If a company cannot feasibly commit to taking on the cost of their internship program this summer, consider modifying the program to be a volunteer internshipAn intern could benefit from the company by receiving: 

  • Course credit from their school, if applicable 

  • Mentorship and learning opportunities  

  • A portfolio of work completed during the internship 

  • Recommendation letters and networking opportunities 


 5. Offer micro-internships 

While many companies may not be able to take on interns this summer, these programs can take place year-round. Micro-Internships offer short-term, paid, professional assignments ranging from 5 to 40-hours. Benefiting both the student and company, micro- internships provide: 

  • Short term experience for students to try their hand at various projects 

  • Networking opportunities  

  • Immediate support for hiring managers 

  • Experience for the intern and company in utilizing a freelance model 

  • The ability for both the intern and the company to test out a partnership 


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