COVID-19 has clearly impacted our world in a variety of ways, including the cancellation of many students’ internships. If your internship was discontinued due to the coronavirus, although you might feel lost during this time, there are strategic ways to benefit from this space of uncertainty.
Here are five ways to gain experience that will help your future career if your plans for a “traditional” internship fell through.
1. Learn a New Skill
Take a look at the job listing for your dream internship, read the description and highlight skills you would develop during the program. Likely, these are skills you can learn outside of the office walls you would have occupied during the internship. Although your resumé might be missing a “true” internship, your future employer will see that you chose to use this time wisely and improve yourself as a professional. All it takes is some ingenuity and motivation.
Did you know all Biola students have free access to LinkedIn Learning? There, you can find thousands of skill-building courses to help prepare you for your future career. Other platforms, such as YouTube, also have free content that can help you learn skills you would have learned in an internship. Websites like SkillShare have two months of free trial periods with courses ranging from sketching to basic website creation and much more. Make sure to add these skills and projects to your resumé or portfolio when you are done.
2. Use Being Home as a Resource
Are you back in your home town due to COVID-19? Leverage your connections at home to get some internship-like experience while maintaining social distancing to help people in need. Maybe the restaurant you worked for in high school needs help telling their customers about their updated hours on social media, or your neighbor needs help coordinating their Zoom meetings. We are all impacted by the situation due to the coronavirus, so spending the extra time you have to help others in these ways will be mutually-beneficial for you and your community. Doing small projects like these – whether paid or unpaid – can help build skills and knowledge for your career journey while also helping someone who needs it.
Don’t be shy about networking while you are at home. Asking for virtual informational interviews with professionals in your town could lead to some really great opportunities.
One way I learned so much about the industry I am interested in was sitting in on meetings during my internships. While we are unable to job-shadow in person, if you have friends or family in your desired industry, ask if you could be a silent guest on a few of their Zoom meetings to give you a better sense of industry jargon and what a day on the job looks like.
3. Skill-Based Volunteering
During this time, many organizations are open to volunteer work. One way to help these organizations and practice your skills at the same time is to engage in skills-based volunteering. One way to initiate this is to reach out to organizations on social media or email and ask if they need help in a specific area.
You could reach out to an organization with a message like this:
Hi (XYZ Company),
I saw on your website that you are now processing online orders due to COVID-19. I’m sure that can be really stressful! As a student who is now home from college earlier than expected, I would be happy to lend my experience in Excel if you could use the help. I would be excited to apply my classroom knowledge to real-world situations.
Thank you for still operating during this challenging time,
Maybe a church in your area really needs some videos filmed for social media. Or perhaps a nonprofit needs help translating content into Spanish. There could be many opportunities in your community, so consider reaching out.
4. Virtual Volunteering
Websites like Catchafire connect people to nonprofits in need of help across the country. All work can be done virtually, which works well for the current climate. Other websites with virtual volunteering opportunities are United Planet and EmpowerWork.
These virtual volunteer opportunities can feel similar to internships, which makes them great replacements for opportunities that may have fallen through this summer. You may learn new skills and walk away with something to put on a resumé or e-portfolio. Additionally, you will form connections with the organizations, which may help you in the future if you apply for jobs.
5. Take Time to Rest
How is God speaking to you during this time? Perhaps your internship plans being halted are an invitation to rest. Take this time to focus on school and finish the semester strong. While you are home, dedicate some time to revamping your resumé, cover letter or LinkedIn so you have a stellar application when opportunities open in the future.
The Biola Career Center is here for you during this time of uncertainty. Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org with questions you may have about what your career journey looks like during this time. Schedule a virtual appointment, or check out our online resources for resumés and cover letters.
Brianna Reynolds is the Business Peer Internship Ambassador. You can email her at email@example.com.