Students adapt to new ways of working after internships affected by coronavirus

USC Career Center continues to offer help virtually.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many event-based and location-centric internships have been canceled, other internships are learning to adapt to an online work-field.

Madison Young, a junior pursuing a music industry major, was an intern for the Academy of Country Music this spring. She was informed her internship was over because the show, originally-slated for April 5, had been postponed to September.

“I was so sad because we worked so hard, and for it to be canceled literally two weeks before the show, it was really sad,” Young said. She was being paid for this internship and was also supposed to receive four-units of credit.

USC has yet to make a statement regarding credit for internship courses for the spring 2020 semester. USC Career Center declined to comment on the issue.

Other companies, such as Yelp, have announced that they put their summer internship program on hold.

Some USC students are also finding creative ways to continue internships despite the coronavirus pandemic, which is causing job loss across the country. Reports published by the U.S. Department of Labor on March 19 have shown a much faster initial unemployment claim increase during earlier this month than during the Great Recession.

Anjali Devgan, a junior majoring in human sciences, is continuing her internship with St. Vincent Meals on Wheels, a food delivery service for homebound seniors and other vulnerable residents across Los Angeles. She is a project development intern and was hoping to continue working during the summer.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Devgan was working on a program called the friendly visitor program, which helped organize play-dates between seniors and volunteers. She creatively pivoted her program to work during social distancing.

“I’m working with my boss to come up with some sort of telecommunication model, just like phone visits, and setting up volunteers and seniors on the phone just to talk and chat,” Devgan said.

During this difficult time, the USC Career Center remains open virtually to help students navigate the fluid world of interning during social-distancing.

When deciding how they would proceed after the university went completely online, the Career Center was thinking what they could do to help students continue internships virtually, according to Lauren Opgenorth, associate director of internships and experiential education.

Opgenorth brings attention to the fact that virtual internships are not completely novel. The career center can provide resources and guidance on how to navigate working online.

“We talk about how we’ve been able to use tech to our benefit,” Opgenorth said. “No one necessarily saw things going like this, but it is really showing employees that the students are willing to be flexible and able to adapt to this current environment.”

Only one corporation has informed USC directly of the cancellation of its summer internship program. While Opgenorth mentioned the company was in the retail industry, she declined to say what company it is.

Opgenorth also wants students to understand there are still internships out there; they just happen to be online.

As far as events, the career center still has 10 different virtual information sessions scheduled with employers about summer opportunities. Students are encouraged to schedule one-on-one meetings with career center employees if they have questions or want guidance for finding their summer internship.

The upcoming alumni and recent student career fair are going to happen with a similar online model, according to the USC Career Center.