How COVID-19 Has Changed Internships for Three Students

    12 December 2020

    An internship is a way for many students to explore different careers and gain valuable skills during their education.

    It is a work position for a short period of time and could be paid or unpaid. More importantly, students who had work internships received more job offers after graduation than those without.

    The National Association of Colleges and Employers reported that graduating students with internships in the Class of 2019 received 1.17 job offers as compared to 0.98 for those without the experience.

    During the COVID-19 health crisis, almost all internships have had to adjust to the new environment. Some workplaces have simply cancelled their internships. Others moved them online for work and learning.

    Washington DC internships moved online

    The Ohio State University (OSU) is the largest public university in Ohio with nearly 68,000 students. Around 75 percent of students will do an internship while they are in school. OSU offers a competitive internship program for students studying government policy.

    The internship program is called the Washington Academic Internship Program (WAIP). The program helps its students to study and work in Washington, DC. Like many others, the program had to move to a virtual learning environment this year. This fall, only 11 students are attending the program.

    Alyssa Fuller, Nicholas Fulton, and Claire Palmer are three students attending the WAIP program this fall. Fulton joins the program from Kent and Fuller checks in from another Ohio city, Columbus. And Palmer is nearly 4,000 kilometers across the country in Sacramento, California.

    Alyssa Fuller, participant in the Washington Academic Internship Program
    Alyssa Fuller, participant in the Washington Academic Internship Program

    Alyssa Fuller had to adjust to the feeling of being alone and disconnected during the internship. She told VOA, "this was a bit of a change, working alone in my one-bedroom apartment with no one around me. I think I really did have to get used to the feeling of my team being there but not really there."

    One of the biggest ways that COVID-19 has changed our daily lives is the way we communicate.

    Nicholas Fulton told VOA that he had to adjust to communicating through e-mail and phone calls every day. He said it is difficult to get his personality across to his supervisors and build relationships. He also said it is important to communicate in an internship so you receive work.

    Since many internships are unpaid, students will often take a paying job during their internship. Interns find it important to balance their time. Claire Palmer said she finds balancing her time to be a skill she is learning while being an intern.

    Palmer also offered some advice for future interns. She said, "it's important to be able to tell like when stuff needs to be good and when stuff needs to just get done, because those are two very different types of tasks."

    Workplaces have found that they need to change the work they give their interns. Usually, many interns are given simple jobs requiring no special skill. Since interns are working from home, they cannot answer the phones, do the usual paperwork or simple jobs.

    Fulton told VOA "you're encouraged to work on other projects. So that's a really good thing that you'll have your hands in a wider range of things." He continued by saying that interns are learning new skills that can help them in the future. For example, students are getting more computer skills that can be useful in professional work.

    Alyssa praised the WAIP program for attempting to give students the "DC experience." The program has organized events, connected students with people, and given resources they may need, although, virtually.

    I'm Greg Stachel.

    Gregory Stachel wrote this story for VOA Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.


    Words in This Story

    adjust v. to change in order to work or do better in a new situation

    virtual adj. existing or occurring on computers or on the Internet

    apartment n. a usually rented room or set of rooms that is part of a building and is used as a place to live

    personality n. the set of emotional qualities or ways of behaving, that makes a person different from other people

    stuff n. materials, supplies, or equipment

    task n. a piece of work that has been given to someone: a job for someone to do

    special adj. different from what is normal or usual

    encourage v. to make (someone) more determined, hopeful, or confident

    range n. a group or collection of different things or people that are usually similar in some way