For students across the country, the coronavirus (COVID-19) has already heavily impacted their academic lives in more ways than one. As the semester comes to an end and the summer approaches, many University of New Hampshire (UNH) students rely on internships to enhance their education and resumes. However, due to COVID-19, the future of many internships is uncertain.
At the University of New Hampshire’s Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics, 83% of students complete at least one internship during their undergraduate education; many of them choose to complete it during the summer. The same goes for the College of Engineering and Physical Science, also with 83% of its students reporting doing an internship or research/lab experience during their time at UNH.
Internships are extremely beneficial for students to learn what they like and dislike about a career field and make valuable connections. It is an opportunity to take what is being learned in the classroom and apply it to a professional setting. Unfortunately, many of these benefits will be lost due to many internships being put on hold or canceled all together due to the pandemic. COVID-19 has led to many working remotely, but for multiple organizations working remotely as an intern is not an option.
One common summer internship at UNH is through a supervised program called The Washington Center (TWC), where students have the opportunity to apply for internships in Washington DC and attend various academic seminars. On April 10, TWC announced that it would be moving its entire academic internship program online because of COVID-19. Anna Kate Munsey, a sophomore journalism student at UNH, had planned on attending the “Democratic National Convention Seminar” as part of TWC that would be held in Milwaukee, WI. However, unlike the academic internships, the seminars are not being offered as an online alternative.
“I feel disheartened about it being canceled for sure, but I definitely saw it coming,” Munsey said. “This is such a unique opportunity and it’s definitely unfortunate to not do it, since we won’t have another nominating convention in my college career.” Munsey was thankfully able to find an alternative closer to her home in Durham, New Hampshire.
Munsey is not the only student to lose out on her summer internship. Miranda Dow, a junior marketing major, spent the spring semester studying abroad in Paris, France where she was slated to take classes and complete an internship, as well as partake in another internship when she returned home. However, due to UNH calling students back from studying abroad early because of COVID-19, she was unable to do her internship abroad. When she got home, she discovered that her internship that had been planned for the summer had been canceled and she was left scrambling to find something new.
“I understand why my internship abroad was canceled,” said Dow. While her internship with the American Center for Art and Culture in Paris was offered to be completed online, Dow said she “let go of the opportunity and [has] accepted that its cancellation was necessary.” As for Dow’s summer internship, she struggled with how complicated it was to communicate with the company that she was hoping to intern with.
“I had scheduled and was about to do my final interview over Skype, when suddenly everyone I’d been in contact with stopped communicating with me. After about a month of trying to get in touch with the company over email, I called, only to find out that the employees I’d been in contact with no longer worked there and [the company] was not in business,” said Dow. Since this internship was supposed to be a paid position, Dow is now searching for a job and applying for any internships that may still be hiring for the summer. “I’m not optimistic about finding any paid internship or job opportunities that appeal to my interests and skills but I’m still looking.”
Career and Professional Success at UNH has been supportive of students during this difficult time and are providing several resources for assistance. They are still holding appointments with students virtually to help students in any way and resources can be found at https://www.unh.edu/career/virtual.