What's Happening to Summer Internships? Many are Going Virtual
Updated: Apr 27
Companies and students both rely on internships as a means to further their respective goals. With most organizations in a work-from-home environment right now - and after a couple of requests for my help with virtual internships, I was curious as to what's happening. So, I did a bit of research. Here's some of what I found:
Forbes reports that 36% of companies overall are moving forward with virtual internships – which is an increase from companies’ plans as recently as March.
In the Tech space, Axios' reporting shows that lots of companies are still planning on holding summer internships virtually. Google, Twitter, IBM, Microsoft, Lyft, Apple, Amazon, Intel, Uber, Doordash, and Salesforce are all moving forward with their summer internships – some committed to wholly virtual programs. If their work-from-home practices are removed, most have said they’ll bring interns on-site with the rest of employees.
Quartz reports that on Wall Street, 12 out of 22 Financial Services companies surveyed plan to have a virtual component to their internships, with four of those 22 considering fully virtual programs
So, what are organizations going to do with their interns? They will join the ranks of individuals working virtually, that’s for certain.
There will likely be a need for fully skilled facilitators, able to work with the groups virtually to ensure that they are getting the skills training they need, while also having the opportunity to be coached around everything from what to wear and how to “show up” virtually to how to ask questions, how to align themselves within the organization’s business model, and how to interpret and respond to various types of business communication – from Slack to texts to meetings run by managers who aren't necessarily adept at managing remotely.
As I mentioned, I’ve already been asked by a couple of tech companies to help facilitate their summer intern programs. The creation of a learning cohort, holding facilitated video-conference discussions and classes, etc., will take the place of the information sharing and learning that most interns have traditionally received on-site. Programs I've been asked for have been as varied as business communication, Excel skills, facilitated discussions around navigating office politics, conflict resolution (when necessary) and presentation skills.
Internships are critical components of an organization’s recruitment, public relations, and workforce needs – so their success is important. And, of course, they're equally critical as part of students' learning, resume development, career direction decisions, observing (and gaining) institutional knowledge, and applying academic learning IRL.