Some Ohio University students have been forced to change their summer plans after many internships have been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
All study abroad trips have already been canceled for the coming summer, but an internship credit is required for graduation from some programs at Ohio University.
In the meantime, students who have lost an internship or study abroad opportunity can use the time to take an online class in the summer, Dr. Eddith Dashiell, the next Director of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, said in an email.
“If you had a summer internship but it was canceled, consider taking some online summer courses,” Dashiell said in an email. “This could free up some time so that you could complete your internship in fall 2020 or spring 2021.”
Bethann Huges, a junior studying health services administration, said she was “devastated” to find out her internship with Mercy Health was canceled.
“I am hoping I can go back to my old summer jobs working at pools and concessions stands home in Cincinnati,” Huges said. “There’s no other internships really in the healthcare (field) due to the danger of coronavirus.”
Huges said her internship was canceled because of the uncertainty for current employees caused by COVID-19. However, she said they have offered her an internship after graduation.
“I really think the university should just waive the internship credit for the juniors who need it to graduate in 2021, like myself,” she said.
Some companies have also offered remote internships in place of in-person internships, which the university said it would approve.
“Remote internships, in my opinion, would not be successful due to not even being able to immerse yourself into the environment you may work in,” Huges said. “Mine was in a huge health system headquarters so I really wanted that professional experience before I graduated.”
Imants Jaunarajs, Career and Leadership Development Center assistant vice president, said summer internships being canceled is a reality for many students right now.
“I think students have to be much more proactive in terms of seeking those (remote internships) out,” Jaunarajs said. “But there are companies who have identified remote work options or internship options for students to get their hours. It really is depending on the organization or company and how they have approached it.”
He said some of the difficulty in planning for internships comes from the fact that no one knows when the COVID-19 pandemic will end and things will return to normal.
“I think the big message is to continue to work as it relates to your own personal career development,” Jaunarajs said. “What is a really good strategy is to start thinking about what you can control and how you can move the process forward.”
He said that during the recession in 2008 and 2009, the university expected more students to reach out for help with career development. However, students did the opposite of that and instead felt hopeless and did not engage until prospects looked better, Jaunarajs said.
“I think it is important for students to be proactive and be intentional on developing or moving forward in that process,” he said. “Even if it just means connecting from a networking standpoint, or identifying mentors, or building up profiles on the Bobcat mentorship network or LinkedIn. By doing these kinds of activities that help career development and still move along when things do turn, they're ready to go and then starting to work on it.”