COVID-19 Slashes Students’ Summer Internship Plans

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Illustration by Lauren Luna

Analissa Núñez

Contributing Writer

While the class of 2020 graduates amid a worldwide pandemic, those who still have more time at UC Santa Barbara (UCSB) can add “canceled summer opportunities” to their COVID-19 list.

For many, an internship is valuable to building one’s resume and network to get a full-time job. 

Several internship programs have adjusted to remote positions or simply rescinded offers. According to a survey on the changes to college summer internships since COVID-19, 64 percent of employers who canceled internships offered no compensation. Many students were relying on the compensation they would’ve received from their program. Now, they are scrambling to compensate for it. 

Three students from different backgrounds sat down with The Bottom Line to discuss how they are feeling after having their summer offers rescinded and their fears about their post-graduation plans.

Esther Liu, a third-year communication and music studies double major, was accepted to intern for technology company Corning Inc. as a digital communications intern at their headquarters in New York. Originally planning to be compensated for her work, Liu is now scrambling to apply for another internship. 

“Overall, it’s not the loss of income that I’m frustrated with. Rather, I’m worried about the loss of experience,” said Liu. “As a current third-year, my plans were to complete an internship in a reputable company before my senior year. This way, I would have a tangible experience to share when interviewing for full-time jobs as a senior.”

For students whose plans have been derailed, Amanda Asquith, internship and experience manager at UCSB’s Career Services offered some advice. 

“I encourage all students, and especially those from underrepresented backgrounds, to continue to build resiliency, recognize that everyone starts somewhere when it comes to making connections, and know that Career Services is here to help assist you,” Asquith said.

Bernie Nguyen, a third-year studying geographic information systems, was accepted to intern for the Asian Pacific Islander (API) political movement in Los Angeles. Nguyen was disappointed with the cancellation, especially considering the lengthy application process it took to get the position. 

“It was all a written application process, including a letter of recommendation. I wasn’t expecting to get accepted. I remember telling the person who wrote my letter of recommendation immediately,” he said. 

Students are also concerned about the loss of research opportunities. Alexandra Wishowski, a third-year linguistics major, had already put in money to prepare for her research assistant position observing special education classrooms at UCSB’s Koegel Autism Center. That will now never happen. 

“I had to complete online training while also having to pay for fingerprinting services and a background check,” said Wishowski. 

With spring research suspended, students are worried they won’t have enough experience when applying to graduate or professional school. As a transfer student, Wishowski already felt disadvantaged among other applicants. She has plans to apply to graduate school for speech-language pathology but worried she “won’t have enough time on campus” to make her a competitive applicant. 

Wishowski was anxious about losing her research position because of how competitive California graduate schools are. 

“I’m considered an out-of-field applicant because UCSB doesn’t offer the undergraduate major, so I was hoping to make up [for] my lack of prerequisites with other opportunities,” she said. 

Although the light at the end of the tunnel seems distant, there’s hope for those looking to secure a career-building opportunity. 

In early May, UCSB’s Career Services announced its first-ever Virtual Career Fair that spans across the UC system, offering two different fairs: one for STEM majors and another for all majors. Among the long list of employers attending are those looking for students for summer internships or post-graduate positions.  

If you’re trying to find another internship, City Internships (CI) is currently searching for applicants to take part in their online programs. CI is a learning provider assisting students in acquiring the experience they need to start a successful career. If accepted, students will undertake a work placement with an employer in their desired field and work together with assigned mentors. 

While remote placements may feel like a lesser experience, they hold the same weight on resumes for future prospective employers. Though the pandemic has disrupted plans, whatever the outcome, nothing can be done other than to wait on COVID-19.

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