The COVID-19 pandemic has had an immense impact on many students across the country, especially those at Michigan State. One change that has affected students involves their internships moving remote or having their offers completely rescinded due to the pandemic.
This obstacle, however, didn’t stop faculty at Michigan State to set students up with alternatives for their summer plans.
Summer with some hope
MSU faculty tends to help students looking for summer work every year, but with COVID-19 happening, some faculty members stepped up in the process.
Karin Hanson, the director of employer relations and communications for the Career Service Network, is a part of a team that sets students up to attain internships. Prior to COVID-19, Hanson would use things such as networking affairs and career fairs to help students find summer work.
“Career service network help students attain their own internships and the whole purpose is to connect with potential employers,” said Hanson.
Since COVID-19, she said many students have had to adjust to the uncertainty of the turn their internships can take.
“A lot of internships have been either canceled, completely delayed and some are remote,” Hanson said. “Some are proceeding as usual at smaller percentages, but most have been delayed, cancelled or remote,” said Hanson.
She said earlier in March, employers connected with students with the idea of going remote, so some students have had an idea earlier than others. Hanson said, however, some have struggled with the adjustment based on structure.
“We are all working together for employers, said Hanson. “The internship is to help give exposure, but with limitations it can be hard,” said Hanson.
Even with these difficulties at time though, Hanson has stated that many students who were rescinded do have some sort of tradeoff with the pandemic affecting their internship.
“I’m learning that a lot of students who were rescinded their internship, will have a first round consideration for full time work next year,” Hanson said.
Many colleges work with a career service network in order to help the students who were not as lucky with their offer being rescinded. This means either setting up students with other types of hands on work that will be useful or allowing them to get credit for an internship, like a co-op.
Summer Consulting Project
One college faculty member in particular said she felt inspired to help students that were affected from the pandemic. Helen Dashney, a faculty member of the finance department for Eli Broad College of Businesses, spearheaded The Summer Consulting Project to fund 33 students to work on 16 remote projects at eight different companies.
Dashney, who is entering her 25th year teaching at MSU, says given her background and interest, this proposal was helpful for students and helped students get back on their feet. She proposed the idea to Dean Sanjay Gupta.
“Every student that applied was able to get a summer experience,” Dashney said. For each week students work, instead of getting paid, they are awarded $500 per week worked,” said Dashney.
Differing from other colleges, Broad doesn’t offer college credit for the internship, but uses the scholarship towards tuition.
Dashney also said some students will have their internship and projects overlap for a little bit.
“Students in finance have internships in July but projects that end in June and one grad student had an internship reinstated in July, and she’ll be able to do both,” said Dashney.
Along with finance, all majors are represented in the project except for accounting.
Dashney also said she understands that for students to be asked to come back permanently would be nice, but that wasn’t the intent of the project.
“That wasn’t an expectation, but it still could mean that if you are well liked and do good work, it’s a possibility” she said.
Some of the company’s students are a part of range from startups to even Apple.
A sea of possibilities
Along with Broad, the College of Communication Arts & Sciences has had its own way of getting students to have a hands on summer.
Randi Martinez, who manages the career center in the college, works directly with a program that also allows students to still get the work they were expecting over the summer.
Located in Burbank, California, mOcean is a production advertising media company that has MSU ties with an alumnus of the college of ComArtSci. The program is 10 weeks, but due to COVID-19, it canceled the in-person opportunity and reached out for a virtual one.
“The program is 10 weeks and it’s 20 to 25 hours a week, doing a different amount of projects and meeting with many professionals,” said Martinez.
She also mentioned how many students applied for this opportunity, including five this summer.
The actual mOcean program doesn’t start until June 29, where students will work in a range of tasks including editorial, writing, art, phone production and more.
“The biggest thing here is we want students to still have opportunities, even with everything going on,” said Martinez.