COVID-19’s impact on the economy and the job market will hit the class of 2020 hard: A recent New York Times story called it a “job-eating virus,” saying college seniors fear they could be the next class of 2009, who also graduated during a recession.
The Department of Labor reported last week that 6.6 million people have filed for unemployment, a significant jump from the 3.3 million people who filed claims the week prior.
Internships are usually stepping stones for students to get experience in their field and potentially land a full-time position with the company they’re interning for. Following the coronavirus outbreak and echoing a national trend, some Philly companies are pausing summer internship programs.
Mitch Stewart, cofounder and CTO of Center City’s Guru, told Technical.ly that the company will not be hosting summer interns.
“For us, it just came down to wanting to ensure we gave the interns a great experience, and given the significant change to how our team is working right now and uncertainty when offices will reopen, we decided to pause,” he said. “We’ve consistently run an internship program at Guru for the past four years and we are excited to get back to it as soon as possible.”
Guru plans to assess the situation at the end of the summer and possibly bring interns back in the fall, Stewart said.
Emarketing company Monetate — now part of cloud commerce company Kibo — also stopped its summer internship program, said Engineering SVP (and former Monetate CTO) Brian O’Neill. And earlier this week, the City of Philadelphia canceled its own program, which introduces rising college juniors and graduate students to the executive branch of local government.
“Today, individuals who applied for the summer 2020 Mayor’s Internship Program were informed that the planned cohort of the program has been cancelled,” said Deputy Communications Director Lauren Cox in an email on Monday. “The City is currently taking every precaution to slow the spread of COVID-19. Given the many challenges presented by this rapidly evolving pandemic, including uncertainty as to when the City will resume normal operations, the decision was made to cancel this summer’s program.”
While some companies are not planning to hire interns anytime soon, Campus Philly, a nonprofit that connect students with work opportunities in the Philly region, has started providing resources to students and companies that are still hiring interns.
VP of Partnerships Ashlie Thornbury said the team was well positioned to meet this “new normal” in recruiting and hiring. She said the org has seen some partners continue to actively look for summer interns.
“Many of them want to be able to ramp up quickly when it comes to hiring in 2021,” Thornbury said. “Companies told Campus Philly a big reason they want to find an alternative to canceling was because they didn’t want to be in a bad position next year because they use interns as a pipeline to hire for the company.”
Deanna Crusco, Campus Philly’s corporate relations manager, said companies looking to hire are being encouraged to post jobs because students are still looking for opportunities.
Campus Philly’s virtual career fair, originally set to run from March 20 to March 30, started on March 15 after the org switched to remote work. Crusco reported a 200% increase in website traffic during the online career fair.
Preliminary findings from the organization’s survey on how companies are being impacted by the pandemic showed 15% of companies that responded are canceling internship programs and 30% are looking into remote working options for interns.
For the companies still running internships, Campus Philly is providing feedback on how to make virtual internships great experiences for students.
“We’re sharing with them best practices Campus Philly has adopted in a virtual working environment,” Crusco said. “We’re encouraging partners to be as thorough as possible with orientation as if it were in person.”
Campus Philly also created a virtual resource guide for college students as their spring semester winds down.
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