Many California Baptist University students are learning that their summer internships and entry-level jobs might be affected by COVID-19. As many companies have already canceled their internship programs over the summer because of COVID-19-related concerns, the upcoming weeks will be crucial in determining the fate of students’ summer jobs and internships.
Lisa Singer, associate director of Employer Relations, offered advice regarding how to approach a summer internship or job threatened by the novel coronavirus.
“This is new territory for not only students but companies, as well,” Singer said. “Many companies are either forgoing their internships until the market is more stable, as well as establishing a hiring freeze. My No. 1 piece of advice is don’t waste this waiting period.”
Singer recommends using this time to keep in contact with recruiters, refine technical and soft skills, strengthen one’s online and paper presence and initiate informational interviews with companies.
“Networking will never lose its value,” Singer said.
Singer was able to offer insight from her unique perspective as someone who works with companies personally.
“As the associate director of Employer Relations, I know companies are initiating a hiring freeze,” Singer said. “Some are laying off. I have not yet had any students contact me and let me know about losing an internship. Unfortunately, I’m sure due to the climate, I am anticipating hearing that students have lost internships.”
Fortunately, students can shift their focus to better prepare for their field even in this time of crisis. Singer said maintaining a motivated and professional outlook will positively impact a student’s future.
“There are many things we can’t change about a pandemic. But we can still be solution-minded, whether that is personally or professionally. For instance, the minute I had to start working remotely, I had no choice but to strengthen my technology skills,” Singer said. “I also had to look for creative ways to network and reach out to clients, employers, etc. That’s why it is important to ‘expand your bandwidth’ and be willing to step outside your comfort zone and establish new goals or gain new skills to adapt as you navigate during this ever-changing season.”
Anna Saviage, junior business administration major, said she is currently searching for an internship during the quarantine.
“COVID-19 has made it a lot more challenging to look for a summer internship since many companies have placed a freeze on their hiring until the end of April,” Saviage said. “This makes it difficult since I won’t receive a response or a follow-up interview until the beginning of summer. I am still hopeful and determined through the process and I am using this time to research more companies and industries and gaining more insight into what I am looking for in a position.”
Saviage said she is sympathetic toward all who are struggling to find work during the pandemic and her primary concern is for those who depend on their job to survive.
“I understand this is a difficult time for employment as so many are losing their jobs. While I am still looking for an internship for the summer, I will not be disheartened if I do not get one as it is more important for families who are in a more difficult financial situation to find new work,” Saviage said.
Many students are experiencing similar concerns. As a Career Center counselor, Jamie Jilson was able to give advice on how to proceed.
“It is OK to be discouraged,” Jilson said. “But the next step is your responsibility and will show who you are as a person. Shifting your mindset can be challenging and intimidating but it can also be a testament to your adaptability, leadership and character.”
Jilson also recommended reliance on faith in times like these.
“COVID-19 doesn’t surprise God,” Jilson said. “So trust him as you are creating your priorities, trust him as you are sitting in silence or getting job offers during this time and trust him that he knows your desires and your preferences. But, ultimately, his desires for your life will be so much better than you can imagine. We might just need to give COVID-19 time before we can see that.”
Jilson said she wants to encourage anyone struggling with uncertainty about the upcoming months to lean on a supportive community.
“This is uncharted territory for every one of us; no one knows the perfect way to act, respond, work and function in a pandemic,” Jilson said. “Know that you aren’t the only one concerned about not finding a job or getting laid off, and know that you have a community around you to support you, so lean on them and let them lean on you.”