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Virtual platforms open up new opportunities for student internships

The U.Va. Career Center and Internship Placement Program offer students multiple options to gain experience in their preferred subject while online for the semester

<p>The new virtual positions also make it easier for students to work in positions that now have flexible hours and no commuting time.</p>

The new virtual positions also make it easier for students to work in positions that now have flexible hours and no commuting time.

As coronavirus continues to spread across the country, students are placed in the unprecedented position of taking classes and finding other opportunities online. For many students, that means finding and applying to health and science positions online.

Kim Sauerwein, director of pre-health and law advising at the U.Va. Career Center, noted that the Career Center was open and offering many programs to help students find careers during the pandemic. In fact, over the previous summer, it was able to bolster many of its programs and saw almost double the number of students and graduates as usual, despite operations being virtual.

“We continue to connect students with employers and alumni in various career fields,” Sauerwein said in an email to The Cavalier Daily. “In fact, due to the virtual nature of our programming, we have an extended network of alumni and employers who can ‘Zoom’ into our events.”

These events by the Career Center include career fairs, on-Grounds interviewing and other networking opportunities hosted throughout the year. Sauerwein noted that students interested in pursuing a specific career could reach out to the center for connections to mentors, employers, career advisors and professionals in the field. Even just completing small steps towards a career goal can be beneficial for future success.

“Pre-health students have been challenged by far fewer in-person opportunities for shadowing, volunteering and research in a clinical or lab setting,” Sauerwein said in reference to the coronavirus restrictions. “However, new opportunities such as the Virginia Medical Reserve Corps [positions] for Student Volunteers and COVID-19 Volunteers, have arisen. Since March, over 5,000 Virginians have joined the MRC and become deployable volunteers.”

Before coming to Grounds, first-year College student Lexie-Anne Cantrell worked as a certified nursing assistant and is currently looking for CNA positions in Charlottesville. According to Cantrell, there is a greater demand for CNA positions now than at the start of the pandemic.

“Many CNAs quit their jobs, causing a large influx of need because of COVID,” Cantrell said. “I am applying to more positions to see what benefits, in regards to pay and hours, I could receive and compare them as well.”

When the coronavirus began to spread rapidly in the U.S., the nursing home she worked at underwent many changes to protect the patients who lived there.

“For a long while, they were locked down — there were no visitors allowed,” Cantrell said. “Then everyone that came into work had to go through a series of steps with PPE, which is personal protective equipment, that they had to put on.”

Another program in the Career Center that students can utilize to find health and science related internships — such as healthcare and clinical research, data analysis and software development positions — is the Internship Placement Program. Though students must pay $90 to apply and are not guaranteed an internship placement, Associate Director of IPP Rebecca Coulter said that the program lets students use one application to apply to multiple internships. With new coronavirus restrictions, IPP has become entirely virtual, which has opened more opportunities for students.

“As a program, being virtual has allowed us to partner with new organizations and offer students virtual internships with organizations across the U.S.,” Coulter said in an email to The Cavalier Daily. “This has enhanced our relationships with alumni who are interested in hosting interns and created new opportunities in industries that weren’t accessible in Charlottesville.”

The new virtual positions also make it easier for students to work in positions that now have flexible hours and no commuting time. The IPP spring application opened Oct. 15 and is available for second, third and fourth years. For science and pre-health students, clinical research positions are open for the upcoming semester through the School of Medicine Clinical Trials Office.