London, Jun 16 (AP) Yadeen Rashid was flying high in February. He”d just earned stellar grades in his latest semester at Virginia Tech university, where he”s in his third year double majoring in economics and political science. And he”d just landed a summer internship at a data analysis company.
Then the pandemic hit, triggering lockdown restrictions and pushing the US economy into recession. Many companies canceled their internships programs and rescinded job offers – including NTT Data, where Rashid was set to intern.
“I was really upset, not just because finding an internship is hard, but because I actually was very excited to work with them very specifically,” said Rashid, 21. He said he bears no ill-will to the company and is looking for other internship opportunities.
“But, you know, as time goes on, it gets a little less optimistic.” Rashid”s experience shows how the global coronavirus crisis, which has already thrown much of the business world into turmoil, is also disrupting summer internships, an important stepping stone to working life for many university students and recent graduates.
Half of all internship openings in the US have been cut since the pandemic outbreak, and 64 per cent of those in the UK, according to research by Glassdoor, the career website. Hundreds of companies, including AirBnb, Fedex, Gap and Walt Disney Co., have scrapped their summer programs, according to an online database.
Companies use summer internships as a pipeline for recruiting graduates while young people benefit from exposure to real working life. They can serve as a source of income or a graduation requirement.
More than one in every six young workers globally have stopped working during the pandemic, the International Labor Organization said last month. The U.N. labor agency added that the pandemic”s long-term fallout could lead to a “lock-down generation” scarred throughout their working lives.
Some companies are making their internships virtual — mirroring the work-from-home trend that”s swept office life during the pandemic.
E-commerce giant Amazon is hiring more than 8,000 interns for its summer program, which it”s turning into “a virtual model.” Global consulting firm EY said more than half of its 15,000 internships this year will be in virtual formats.
Interns will be assigned a “peer counsellor,” someone who joined the company in the past two years, as well as a more senior “reporting counsellor” who will both regularly check in on them, said Trent Henry, EY”s global-vice chair of talent.
One benefit of a traditional internship — networking — is harder to do virtually but companies are trying to make up for that. Amazon is providing mentoring and weekly “fireside” chats via remote video conferencing.
US air conditioner maker Lennox”s 54 summer interns can join lunchtime talks with senior executives by video conference. The company still wants to treat them to a good lunch so it”s considering sending them gift cards to buy food, said recruiter Lexie Williams.