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Students look ahead to an uncertain internship application season

Summer interns at the company KPMG. Photo courtesy of Lucy-Rose Dyson.

With the traditional summer internship season approaching, students are navigating the challenge of finding and applying for summer career opportunities during the uncertainty caused by the pandemic.  

Lucy-Rose Dyson, a first-year mathematics major at UNC, said she has begun her search for actuarial and accounting summer internship roles for the 2021 season. She said several firms have delayed their application periods in order to figure out how to host their programs during COVID-19. 

As a British student who was unable to come to the U.S. due to the pandemic, Dyson said she has been searching for internships in England instead. 

“Most likely, interviews will be held via Zoom or telephone call as many people are still working from home in the U.K. and offices have not returned to full capacity," Dyson said. 

JessieAnne D'Amico, an English and comparative literature major at UNC, said she has been meeting with her adviser to begin plans for a summer internship in 2021. As a first-year transfer student, she said she was looking forward to having resources on campus in order to help her find the right fit for the upcoming summer. 

D’Amico said that while she hopes to have an in-person opportunity, it depends on her living situation and if there were strict guidelines and proper safety precautions.

“If I had to move for an internship and was living with other people, I definitely wouldn't feel okay putting them at risk," D’Amico said.

Abi Barbu, a first-year business administration major at UNC, said she also has begun her search for work opportunities in the summer of 2021.

With many libraries, cafes and office spaces closed or operating at reduced capacity, finding places to study and work outside of the home could be challenge for interns in the upcoming work season, she said.  

She also said that technical issues like finding stable internet connection could be a problem.

“I’m not only nervous about the issues with unemployment that our country is facing right now,” Barbu said. “I’m also afraid to put myself at risk for contracting COVID. Getting a job during these times is going to be difficult."

Dyson also said her preference is for a face-to-face internship opportunities rather than virtual.

“An in-person internship allows you to interact with many people within the working environment and the ability to network is key to succeeding in a company and securing future roles within that company," Dyson said.

D’Amico said that internships can help make some connections for the future to talk to when finding a job out of school. 

“You can still make those connections virtually, but I just don't feel like it's as authentic or as meaningful as it would be working with someone on a day-to-day basis in person," D’Amico said.

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