Classroom to Careers: UPDATE – Zach’s COVID-19 Internship Search

The state of the world is pretty weird right now. That includes internships.

Your life may look like this: moved back home with your parents and still on the hunt for an internship so you can make the most of your summer.

 

Of course, COVID-19 isn’t making this any easier for us.

 

As I have continued my search, I’ve had to get a bit more creative. Many internships are being frozen or moved remote, so it’s hard to know if a job that has been posted is actively hiring interns. One way to check this is to look up a website that lets you know a company’s internship status. You can go here for a few examples. For me the agencies I applied to weren’t on this list. In this case, it doesn’t hurt to send an email!

 

Right as social distancing began, I was scheduled to interview for a position at a lifestyle communications agency in Chicago. This was a dream position for me, exactly what I want to do post-grad. Needless to say, when I received the email saying “We are really sorry to do this, but we have to reschedule,” I was bummed.

 

After not hearing from them for a couple weeks, I emailed the folks I had been in contact with to see what their current hiring status was. They responded apologetically, explaining how they were focused on a response to the current situation and hadn’t had time to focus on the status of the internship. I replied back giving them grace, explaining that this is a difficult time and I appreciate their dedication to clients. From there, they promised to get back in touch by the end of April to re-evaluate.

 

Not the best news for me, so I continued my search. It got to a point where I’m fairly certain I was checking LinkedIn more than I was checking Twitter or Instagram. I made sure that I was searching for jobs still hiring by narrowing my search to more recent job postings. This way, I knew that the staff had posted the position understanding the state of the world.

 

The one thing I regret not doing is following up with the hiring manager on LinkedIn at the company I would apply to. I was applying to every job I could find, but making that connection would have helped me stick out from the crowd.

 

 

Through all of the uncertainty that was going on, I was really struggling with the ways that the pandemic may affect my future applications for jobs as I look for full-time employment. I was concerned about “wasting” a summer not being able to work in a position that I had originally planned on.

 

To see what my options were, I scheduled an appointment with Taren, one of our career advisors. I expressed my concerns and she was very realistic and helpful. She talked about how a company will be understanding of the circumstances. Not only that, she encouraged me that there are still opportunities out there. It may not be the ideal position I had originally planned for, but this is a good opportunity to gain skills over the summer and be prepared for internships in the fall or spring.

 

After this conversation, I began my search once again. I looked at positions on CyHire, more on LinkedIn, but more importantly reached out to people I knew. I had a mentor in Chicago who worked in communications and was more than willing to walk me through what his company is doing in the wake of the pandemic, as well as potential companies to reach out to. I even at one point reached out to a person I knew through social media about the potential of working for a bridal company.

 

All of these steps have made me more confident. Of course, after all of this work, I was lucky to hear back from the company I originally worked with and got an interview! The interview went extremely well, we both were a good fit for each other. After figuring out some credit options, we found that there is a chance to work remotely with them for the summer. While it is unpaid and not my ideal situation, I’m hopeful that I can work with them and learn skills to help me in my future.

 

In the meantime, I’ve been doing my best to stay connected to others and hone my skills. I’ve been working on my second issue of my independent magazine. I’m pouring myself into my work that, while it isn’t paid or for a company, is important to me and will be valuable to share with potential employers for what I can make happen with my creativity. Maybe for you this is starting a blog, helping a friend to re-brand their social media, helping your family on their social media skills, or volunteering for a local group. All of these things will help you hone your skills and make the best of our situation!

 

My biggest advice: even though times are tough right now, we have to remember that we can still make the most of it. Get creative and market yourself and you will make the most of this summer!

 

Zach Hamilton

LAS Career Services Student Worker

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