Finding Internship and Career Opportunities in Uncertain Times
Over the last few weeks, many of us have been focused on making sense of all that is happening in the world, and how COVID-19 has impacted our lives and our communities. Although we are working in a time of uncertainty, Chicago Scholars is committed to supporting our Scholars with career opportunities. We’ve been keeping track of how COVID-19 has impacted industries and hiring in the first 30 days of the pandemic, which has included everything from full transitions to remote work and hiring freezes to cancellations and lay-offs. With a looming recession, our Scholars need these opportunities now more than ever
When the pandemic began, our first plan of action was to survey our 2,000 College Scholars about their needs. The top requested supports regarding their careers were around job search, managing finances, and overall adjustment. When asked to describe how they feel about the job search process, Scholars shared the following words, “behind, stressed, overwhelmed, anxious, frustrated,” and more.
“Initially, I thought I had more time to secure a job and was looking at the east-coast market. However, since the COVID-19 outbreak my priorities have changed.”
The survey results also revealed how Scholars are coping with the impacts of being unexpectedly uprooted from their campuses and the challenges they are facing while completing their academic year online. While the impact of COVID-19-related college and university closures have impacted all students, we have seen a disproportionate impact on low-income, first-generation students, and students of color. Our Scholars are also feeling anxiety as their summer internships have either been canceled or transitioned to virtual platforms. As one Scholar wrote to us, “initially, I thought I had more time to secure a job and was looking at the east-coast market. However, since the COVID-19 outbreak my priorities have changed.”
Based on Scholars’ needs, we developed a series of webinars related to career and leadership amidst COVID-19. Planned webinar topics include searching for a job during uncertain times, virtual interviewing, leveraging strengths and competencies, and bi-weekly coaching sessions. We are also creating and sharing career development tips and resources weekly. You can view the first webinar, “Job Search Strategies in Uncertain Times” on our YouTube page.
“Due to COVID-19, my summer plans were cancelled recently, but I’m hopeful to now be able to use the summer to explore more in terms of my career,” one Scholar wrote. “I’m taking this time to find experiences that would allow me to explore new fields that I’m interested in.”
Despite these challenges, we continue to encourage our Scholars to apply for professional opportunities that will set them on a trajectory to career success and happiness. Many of our Scholars are staying positive and focusing on best ways to use this time to grow professionally, “due to COVID-19, my summer plans were cancelled recently, but I’m hopeful to now be able to use the summer to explore more in terms of my career,” one Scholar wrote. “I’m taking this time to find experiences that would allow me to explore new fields that I’m interested in.”
Summer offers the opportunity for Scholars to complete meaningful internships. For many of our college graduating seniors, this time typically marks the beginning of their careers. Internships as well as your first job after graduation are crucial experiences that can influence career pathways. Beyond gaining the hard skills and industry specific experiences; internships are also opportunities for students to grow their networks and find mentors who can offer life-long career guidance and support. Especially for low-income, first-generation students, these internships provide a critical pathway to upward mobility and financial security that supports their growth as leaders in their communities.
A virtual internship or remote role may be the best option for our college students right now. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), 36% of companies have transitioned their internships virtually, and 34% have implemented a delayed start date. Virtual internships allow for adaptability for student schedules and serve as a great option for valuable experience. Although they require a bit more intentional planning and structured communication, they are an important option to consider during this time. Chicago Scholars is happy to work collaboratively with your company or organization to design a meaningful and quality virtual experience. We are happy to share best practices and offer support along the way.
There are so many other ways to show your support for Chicago’s young leaders:
We are looking for career partners to host our Scholars for summer internships and cultivate talent that will constitute our future’s workforce and leadership. Learn more about partnering with us.
Consider hiring a Scholar for a part time role or micro-internship. Relevant work can help young people gain valuable experiences and build their skill sets.
Chicago Scholars has many ways for your employees to engage and support talented young leaders. If you would like to directly support and empower Scholars as they prepare for the hiring process and position themselves for future opportunities, please contact Sasha Pena.
Help our Scholars achieve their dreams by making a financial contribution.
If you are interested in any of the opportunities above email us a firstname.lastname@example.org.
Through intentional collaboration, we can work together to support our young diverse talent during this unprecedented time.
Sasha Pena currently serves as the Director of Career and Leadership Development at Chicago Scholars, where she oversees key career programming that help Scholars explore careers, develop as leaders, and expand their networks. Sasha is eager to eliminate systemic barriers for under-served students through her use of her strengths as a connector, resource manager, and program developer. She is a Latino Policy Forum Multicultural Leadership Academy Fellow (2019) and a current Surge Institute Fellow. She is a proud Chicagoan and Chicago Public Schools Graduate.