By Dana Berry, 2020 summer intern
In a healthy, full-functioning world, the internship search can be daunting. With endless opportunities to sort through, how are you supposed to find the right fit? To make things worse, a global pandemic arises. It goes from being a stressful time to being (seemingly) impossible.
Nearly 50 million Americans have filed for unemployment since the beginning of COVID-19, and young adults around the nation were hit with the crippling reality that not many companies were going to be hiring anytime soon. Yello conducted a survey to see how many internships were canceled. Out of students who had already received offers, 35% had them retracted. That doesn’t even take into account the number of internships that were called off without having offered anyone the position yet.
The Bradford Dalton Group typically offers two- or three-month internships but was required to shorten the position this year because the company – like many others – went remote for a while. I would’ve loved a longer position with them, but I was so grateful to get six weeks. I’m among the lucky. Now here our country is at the end of summer, and it’s looking like young adults may be faced with the same struggles in the fall, and maybe even next year.
If that’s the case, the least we can do is prepare. Here are three things to consider when internship searching as the pandemic continues:
1. Be flexible.
This is true regardless of the circumstances. Normally, picking a neat city to spend the summer is a huge factor, so narrowing down the list based on location is typical. However, the pandemic has taught us that being flexible is more important now than ever. I lucked out by getting an internship here in Nashville, yet I can’t enjoy everything the city has to offer right now. Even further, 24% of those who had received internship offers had them moved online, and that trend is expected to continue. The bottom line is that you can only do so much when times are this uncertain, so focus on the purpose of the internship – to receive real-world professional experience – and be flexible about the location. It’s also important to be flexible with timing during these unforeseen circumstances. My internship here at the Bradford Dalton Group was shortened since they were out of the office, but I am so grateful for the opportunity. Whether it’s three months or three weeks, be happy to have any chance to gain that experience.
2. Check company culture.
At the end of the day, you want to enjoy where you’re interning. If you’re working remotely, you should think about what type of work environment is best for you. Do you like hands-on guidance? If so, pick an internship that offers more one-on-one meetings with a supervisor. In the case of COVID, pay attention to how the company is handling things. Are they being proactive? Are they being optimistic? At the Bradford Dalton Group, one of the best things as an intern has been all of the optimism I’ve been surrounded by. There’s a lot of negativity in the world right now, so working with and learning from a company that remains positive despite current events can go a long way.
3. Look at what their specialties are.
It’s important to understand a company’s specialties so you can be certain they align well with your interests. As usual, that means applying to places where the job description excites you. For example, if you are looking for a role in public relations but you aren’t interested in tech, an agency whose clients only specialize in software probably isn’t the way to go. Perhaps you would be more energized working at a PR firm that specializes in the entertainment industry. In addition to your interests, there’s another layer to consider that you may not have thought of before the virus. While we’ve remained busy at the Bradford Dalton Group, not all companies have maintained their workloads and therefore may not have enough work for interns to do. Target opportunities that feel somewhat pandemic-proof – at least as much as possible during these times. That means looking at companies who don’t seem too negatively affected by the consequences of the disease or that have the possibility of being shut down. Try to find companies that both excite you and give you a little bit more security going into internship season.
At the end of the day, nothing is guaranteed in this world – now more so than ever. Finding an internship is hard, and it will continue to be hard, so it’s going to take more dedication than ever to secure one. But with these things in mind, your internship search will be off to a great start this fall and beyond, regardless of what the future holds.
Interested in interning with the Bradford Dalton Group? Our fall internship application is live on our website.