The Future of Summer Internships
The past four weeks have seen record numbers of unemployment claims in the US as a result of pandemic-oriented business closures. The jobless claims report that will be announced today anticipates another 4.15 million new claims, bringing the total since late March to more than 26 million, or almost 16% of the labor force.
Many internship programs, however, are largely unaffected by the economic downturn. For industries like finance and consulting, previous experience plays an especially important role in the hiring process. According to Abigail Kies, Assistant Dean for Career Development at the Yale School of Management, internship acceptance rates haven’t changed much since this time last year, suggesting that companies have learned from past downturns and don’t want to end up having to struggle to find talent.
Companies that have had an easier time shifting to remote work are better able to keep up internship programs leading into the summer. These companies include Tesla (TSLA), Kroger (KR), and Great American Insurance (AFG). Elsewhere, reallocating travel and housing funds has helped to expand programs, like that at the Icahn School of Medicine in New York.
PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) fully intends to start its program in July with about 3,500 students, as does Qualcomm Technologies (QCOM), which places 1,200 students in summer programs to prepare them for full-time jobs.
Changes on Wall Street
In spite of plans to forge ahead, program expectations aren’t entirely clear, especially on Wall Street. Due to travel restrictions, visa issues, and school closures, programs have been drastically altered. As lockdown in New York continues indefinitely, some firms, including Goldman Sachs (GS) and Morgan Stanley (MS), have delayed the start of their programs and shortened them, but have yet to cancel them altogether. Citigroup (C) ensures its summer interns that meeting the program’s requirements virtually will still lead to full-time job offers, while Bank of America (BAC) has yet to announce any changes to its program.
The shift to virtual programming comes with concerns, too. Jennifer Clinton, Chief Executive of Cultural Vistas, warns that the approach companies take to virtual internships now could impact the future of internship culture, for good or for bad, long after coronavirus. “I can just envision it turning into what the gig economy has become—here’s the project, do the project,” she said. Clinton emphasized the importance of companies providing support to students, even if that support happens virtually.
Law Students in Limbo
The future for students who are about to graduate with law degrees is similarly nebulous. Many states have cancelled or postponed the upcoming bar exam, for which passing is generally a requirement to practice law. This has put many in a confusing situation—especially those who anticipated working this summer. as
The bar exam is typically offered only twice a year, in February and July, leaving approximately 46,000 law students nationwide uncertain about their futures. The National Conference of Bar Examiners, or NCBE, has announced additional tests for September and October for states that postpone the one in July. It’s up to states to decide whether or not to move the exam, as well as whether or not to allow new graduates to temporarily practice law until they take the test.
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