Summer Internships Take a Turn due to COVID-19

by, August Kissel, Senior Writer 

Manhattan College and it’s students are about to finish out the semester completely online and are now trying to make plans for the transition into the summer. For many this means summer internships and post graduate positions beginning remote, delayed start dates, and prolonged job searches due to strict social distancing measures.

With this transition, students have expressed anxiety about the future and what to expect from the economy. This fear is stemming from the 2008 recession and an uncertain future.

In order to support students, the Center for Career Development has continued programming. 

“The services offered by the Center for Career Development  have continued on-line,” Sharon D’Amelia, the associate director of career development said. “We all continue to meet with students virtually to assist with resumes and cover letters, mock interviews, job and internship search and any other career related questions. The staff meets every day to update each other on what they are working on. Employers continue to post jobs and internships through Handshake and many have also offered on-line sessions. The office is also offering virtual career sessions on Wednesdays at noon with a counselor.” 

Students have begun to search for remote internship opportunities to fill in what would have been summers filled with commutes on the One Train and living in the Bronx.

This rings true for the students who were selected to be a member of the Women Inspiring Successful Enterprise (WISE) program. Rising senior Patricia Wright was accepted by the program and  placed to work at the Lighthouse Guild, the nonprofit organization dedicated to addressing and preventing vision loss. She would be assisting and overseeing the divisions of volunteer recruitment, reading services, and special events for clients. Wright stated in an email interview that she has not heard from the Lighthouse Guild about whether or not her position would transfer to online work. 

“Currently I am a little unsettled,” Wright wrote.  “I was really looking forward to doing hands-on work with visually disabled clients. Since my goal is to be a special education teacher I felt the Guild was the perfect match for me to gain experience with a disabled population I have not worked with before as well as gain administrative experience for later on in my education career.” 

Rachel Cirelli, the director of career services, has been leading the Office of Career Development team, as well as the WISE program through this process. While the economy has seen some dips, that does not mean the internship pool has been completely diminished. The Center and the WISE program have seen success in helping students search for online internships.

We are pleased to see that many of our employers seem pretty comfortable offering our students remote opportunities, especially if they had already received an offer earlier in the semester,” Cirelli said.“For example, American Express hired two of our students for their competitive summer internship program, and decided weeks ago to go remote. Those students have received clear updates and timelines and are looking forward to their summers.”

The Center of Career Development has also been creating working from home tips for students who will be working from home for the summer. D’Amelia advises students to start their day as if they would when they were leaving the house. 

“Make sure you have a dedicated space to work that is organized and clean with the proper equipment to do your job,” D’Amelia said. “Get dressed for work. Instead of just sitting in your pajamas, get dressed up as if you were going to work. You will feel better about yourself. Make sure that your family members or friends that you live with know that you are working so they do not distract you. Also, make time for a walk outside to get some fresh air while on your break.”

Cirelli advises that students use this time to get a jump start on their job search and professional development. 

“Take this time to reconnect with past supervisors and those in your professional network,” Cirelli said. “Learn a new skill that may give you a leg up in the work world, like computer, software, and other skills. Even if you aren’t looking for a job or internship, make an appointment with a counselor in our office to start planning out your time here at the college. They will walk you through all of our offerings so you feel ready and prepared moving forward.” 

As the end of the semester winds down, Wright has also shared how she is using her time in quarantine to benefit her resume and understanding of her future career, along with tips for her peers at Manhattan College. 

“My tips for other MC students are, yes, COVID is making life more difficult especially for those looking for internships but instead of seeing what we are missing out on due to COVID think about all the things you now have time to do,” Wright said. “I am taking this time at home to work on building up my skills for my career. For example, I am studying for my certifications exam for the CST and EAS so I can be prepared when I have the opportunity to take them. I am setting a goal of learning a new word in sign language a day so I can work with deaf, hard of hearing children, or children with other disabilities that mainly communicate through sign. I am also trying to take the time to learn more about google classroom features from my mother who is also an educator so I can use the program in my future classrooms. I would suggest making a list of goals to have for yourself that you want to accomplish by the end of the summer.”