Internships can be huge when it comes to getting a job after graduation, so you shouldn’t give up even under the current circumstances.
There will be no students on Humana’s top five corporate campuses across the country this summer. COVID-19 ensured that.
But that doesn’t mean that executives and staff at the Louisville, Kentucky-based insurance giant will not interact with interns as they have done every year since 1998. They will simply do so in a virtual environment rather than physical.
So far, 200 graduate and undergraduate students have signed up for a summer of online courses, long distance social networking and remote teamwork. But the company is always looking for more. It has space for applicants who might be interested in learning more about business strategy, marketing, healthcare delivery, analytics and operations.
“We are very experienced in working from home. We already have. We did this before COVID-19, “said Ty Richardson, who heads Talent Management for Humana. “We are confident that we can offer a meaningful experience. We have a plan that can be clearly articulated to the trainees so that they are well equipped to understand the tasks and results for which they are responsible at the end of the summer. “
While more than 200 companies, according to research on Github and ismyinternshipcancelled, com, have abandoned internships this summer in the face of a rapidly spreading pandemic, others in a range of industries are moving forward with a virtual version programs deemed crucial to their recruiting efforts and future growth.
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“Ten weeks is a great time for students and businesses to assess mutual compatibility,” said Jeffrey Moss, CEO and founder of Parker Dewey, a Chicago-based company focused on finding internships for students. “The company is able to assess the student beyond what is captured on the CV, and the student has the opportunity to audition the company. “
Tech titans Google, Twitter, IBM, Microsoft and SAP are all planning virtual internships this summer, as are financial powers Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase.
Insurance companies are also on board. AIG, Liberty Mutual and Northwestern Mutual have all switched to virtual internships for 2020.
“Some companies had some experience with remote working before this summer, but for the most part, there is not an established set of best practices,” Joshua Kahn, deputy director of research and public policy at the National Association of Colleges and Employers, a professional non-profit membership organization for college career services based in Bethlehem, Penn. “Most companies are now finding out how to do it. “
Things have to be done a little differently in the virtual world, said Kahn. More emphasis should be placed on short-term projects and shorter and more frequent registrations. Mentors may also need to play larger roles.
“This is going to be difficult for some companies,” said Matthew Hora, director of the Center for Research on College-Workforce Transitions at the University of Wisconsin. “Converting to a remote control requires a lot of thinking about how to design meaningful tasks and supervise them productively.”
But many companies are confident they have the experience and skills to do it.
“Over the past few years, the Liberty Mutual program has already offered virtual internships to a handful of interns who worked in some of our small offices,” said Maura Quinn, Liberty Mutual campus recruiting manager in an e -mail. “We took this model and extended it this year for all of our interns.”
This summer, 600 Liberty Mutual interns – undergraduate, graduate, MBA, law and PhD students – will work remotely in the company’s financial, IT, claims, legal and business services.
“The program will complement the interns’ majors and their Liberty Mutual missions, and will include a combination of professional development, insurance education and career certificate courses,” said Quinn.
Develop emotional intelligence
Humana’s internship program, which begins in May and runs through early August, will include training in virtual classrooms where students learn the basics of health care. The lessons will also help students develop both their intellectual and emotional intelligence and their ability to work with others. There will even be a component of virtual volunteering, where interns will partner with the Humana Foundation.
“This is an opportunity for us to create a talent pool,” said Richardson, the company’s talent manager. “We expect some of our interns to become employees and we want to give them a good start.”
Microsoft’s summer internship will be no less ambitious.
“This year, over 4,000 students planned to join us – the largest and most diverse class in our history – to take on roles that span all of our roles,” wrote Kathleen Hogan, Human Resources Manager at Microsoft in a recent blog post. “And while we are incredibly disappointed not to be with them on our campuses, we are committed to creating a meaningful and fun virtual internship experience for each of them, and we look forward to absorbing their energy and learning of them. as we always do. ”
Hogan added that his team will organize “distance events that focus on making connections, promoting learning and empowering interns to reach their goals and discover their passions. Program participants will connect with each other, create community within their teams, and engage with senior business leaders through a variety of virtual events. “
Focus on micro-internships
Moss, whose company pioneered the concept of micro-internships – project-based internships in which students can earn valuable money and skills over short periods of time, said there is a cost to pay when companies abandon internship programs, even just for a summer.
Some companies like airlines and destination centers like Disney can’t help it. COVID-19 decimated their businesses or there was no way for them to operate remotely, said Moss. The same goes for laboratories and manufacturing facilities.
On the other hand, managers of financial services companies who had previously shrunk from working remotely recognized the possibility of creating positive experiences for their trainees. With so many other companies, they also see the risk associated with non-response.
“These companies recognize the long-term implications of their decision to cancel the internships and they are not pretty,” said Moss. “Some campuses may not consider them with so much affection in the future.”
But it’s not too late to reverse their decisions and provide a soft landing for the students, said Moss. He said he worked with a medical device company that had changed his mind because he now offers trainees a series of microprojects, which is better than nothing.
This is how virtual internships should be organized anyway, he said. Instead of just one big project, trainees can get involved in a variety of well-defined and unobtrusive tasks, often in different divisions of a company. Even if they can be assigned to marketing, they might see an opportunity in sales, which is very similar to what happens when students are on site for the summer.
Zachary Kahtava, a graduate of the University of Kansas on May 15, is already a former micro-internship pro. He made 12 with Parker Dewey since the summer of his Sophomore year.
Major in corporate finance with a concentration in data analysis, Kahtava was able to partially finance his college studies thanks to short internships where he did everything, from generation of prospects to date analysis .
“The really cool thing is that I’m not treated like a student,” said Kahtava. “Companies are open to my opinions and my thoughts. They want to know what I think they should do with the projects. “
The downside of virtual internships
Kahtava said his last trucking internship – building a database to capture capital and operating expenses and other data assignments – was extended in February.
Although the pandemic forced him to bring his computer home, the most significant change was his ability to communicate with his bosses. Whereas he had previously been able to meet with them once a week, they were now so busy dealing with COVID-19 problems that they could only meet him once a month
“We were fortunate not to have been overly affected,” said Kahtava. “But since everything is variable every day, it is more difficult for us to get together. Because we cannot meet, it is more difficult to get an idea of them. “
Summer interns are likely to have different problems.
Because interns are not on site, it will be difficult for them to develop general skills, 21st century skills that you get from teamwork and oral communication, said Hora, director of Wisconsin’s Center for Research on College-Workforce Transitions.
“To really learn them, it requires immersion in the social environment,” he said. “Nurses and mechanical engineers have to dive in the hospital and on the oil rig to really understand the job, to really learn to solve problems on the fly. “
It’s the same thing when it comes to really understanding a workplace culture, said Kahn, deputy director of research and public policy at the National Association of Colleges and Employers.
“One of the most important things for the trainees is the culture of the place and if they feel they can integrate into that culture,” said Kahn. “You can’t get that feeling online. “
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