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Students adapt to new virtual environment for jobs, internships

The University’s Career Center is helping students secure online internships

<p>Students around the country are struggling to find summer job and internship plans due to pandemic.&nbsp;</p>

Students around the country are struggling to find summer job and internship plans due to pandemic. 

Some University students are finding their summer internships or jobs canceled as a result of stay-at-home orders and continuous urging for citizens to abide by social distancing guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19. In efforts to help students navigate the rocky job market, the University’s Career Center is attempting to not only move all of its resources online, but also to reach out to corporations and alumni to secure opportunities for online internships.

Virginia’s stay-at-home order, the longest in the nation, is currently set to last until June 10. While the stay-at-home order is in effect, workers are only supposed to physically report to their workplaces if they are essential. This has led to many people working at home remotely.

In light of these difficulties, the University’s Center for Politics has partnered with several related programs at the University to offer 50 students who have lost an internship opportunity working in the public sector a paid, virtual summer internship. Participants will receive a $2,000 stipend once the five-week internship is complete.

In collaboration with the Miller Center, Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service/Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership and Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, the Center for Politics created this program with students who had lost internship opportunities in mind. It has been funded by $100,000 in emergency funds from the Larry J. Sabato Foundation and the Peter and Eaddo Kiernan Foundation, with further support from McGuireWoods Consulting and private donors.

“The absence of these students from the public sector occurs during a time when the country needs them the most,” said Larry J. Sabato, Director of the Center for Politics. “They can’t afford to lose their jobs, and the rest of us can’t afford to lose their talents.”

Students have until May 15 to apply via the Center for Politics’ website. Interested donors can also contribute online.

According to a survey from the Career Center, 75 percent of U.Va. students have had their summer plans altered due to COVID-19, of which 68 percent do not have new plans.

David Lapinski, director of employer relations and experiential education at the Career Center, said in an interview with The Cavalier Daily that remote internships can provide the same value as an in-person experience.

“The benefits are the same — and honestly in today's market it shows that you can work remotely and economically by yourself,” Lapinski said, noting that large companies like IBM and PricewaterhouseCoopers are moving their programs online.

According to Lapinski, the Career Center is still hard at work finding online internships, and it is far from too late to find one.

Some students have received emails from their summer internships either delaying or canceling the internship altogether. Internships at companies like Yelp, Glassdoor and the National Institute of Health have all been canceled. Companies like Facebook and Johnson & Johnson are reportedly canceling interviews for summer internships.

A survey released by employment platform Yello found that 64 percent of canceled student internships did not provide any alternative offer.

Second-year College student Maya Nir was going to have an internship at Third Way, a D.C. think tank.

“I got an email that said that they had to rescind the offer because they're not sure what's going to happen with [the COVID-19 pandemic], but that they might be able to get the offer functioning in some form after the stay-home order is lifted,” Nir said.

Fourth-year College student Fiona Delzell had multiple job opportunities in Richmond canceled because of COVID-19.

“It would probably be pretty hard to do a lot of the stuff they wanted me to do online. So they just thought that it would be better just to cancel,” Delzell said.

Lapinski urged students who are stuck at home to spend the time cultivating skills on programs like Coursera, which offers online classes and certifications in a variety of subjects from data science to film production. He also suggested students take the time to network.

“VAM is our Virginia Alumni Mentoring program, and that is where we have cultivated thousands of alumni that have offered their time to be resources to talk to students,” Lapinski said. “So over the summer and while students are looking for experiences, they should be networking with these alums and learn about the career background.”

For Delzell, who graduates this year, the plan is to make the best of the situation.

“For right now I think I'm probably just gonna stick to saving money and backpacking and stuff, which will be probably more fun than sitting in an office all day,” Delzell said.

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