As the current Covid-19 pandemic sweeps through the world, it continues to exert its vice-like grip on events, schools, jobs and internships. Summer holidays are being postponed and summer plans are being put on ice. The logistics of rearranging a trip to Spain is a walk in the park compared to those who have to find new jobs and a new source of income. For students and graduates the pandemic has had an unmeasurable impact on their lives, from their exams being put on hold, to graduate jobs being postponed and summer internships being cancelled.
Internships are becoming an increasingly vital element of the graduate recruitment landscape for both employers and third-level students. If you're a student an internship can help you to figure out what the inner workings of an organisation look like and it can help to give you a feel for their culture. It can also prove useful for those who are undecided on what type of career they would like as it affords you the opportunity to take on responsibility without fully committing your long-term future to that job or company.
If your summer internship has been cancelled it can leave you feeling lost, confused and overwhelmed as your future plans have been evaporated. It can have an effect on your long-term career goals if an internship was your chance to get a foot in the door of a particular organisation.
Despite the initial feeling of panic and anxiety there are options out there should your summer internship be cancelled.
Be your own boss
As well as an internship giving you first-hand experience of your first protentional graduate job, it's an also an opportunity to identify what skills you need to upgrade and then working on them to better prepare you for when you enter the job market in a year or two's time. You now have the time to work on the skills which you think may need brushing up on, whether it's communication and leadership or hard skills such as Excel and PowerPoint, there has never been a better time to upskill.
If you can demonstrate to potential employers that you used this time wisely to improve yourself then they will look favourably upon this, especially if your internship being cancelled was the driving force behind the self-improvement as it shows them that you thrive in adversity. It's vital that you can tangibly demonstrate to an employer how you improved yourself. If you create a website or blog it is easy to showcase these to graduate employers but if you have taken an online course in communication, make sure you have evidence of completion.
Virtual internships are also a real alternative, and you can investigate which organisations are running them and if they might be the right fit for you. Read our article on what you can expect here.
Research, research, research
For some students an internship is a way of seeing whether or not a particular company is right for them. You may know that you want to be an engineer, but you don't know what company you would like to work for. This is an opportunity for you to research all of the companies you were considering applying to and come up with a system to see if they best match your values, work ethic and your view of what the job entails. How a particular company has dealt with the current pandemic will also give you insight into whether or not they will be the right fit for you.
Books are your friend
Although it is easier said then done for some people, reading during this time can really help your mental health, your education and your employability.
If you find a good book you can find yourself spending an hour or more reading without knowing where the time went. Instead of the days feeling long and drawn out, a book, like a good film or tv show, can take your mind off the real world and help you to relax.
You can also use this time to read academic journals that you came across as part of your course but haven't had time to delve into yet and you can also catch up on readings which you may have missed.
Academic reading isn't the only answer. By reading books on a variety of topics you are improving your vocabulary and understanding of the world. You will be surprised how many more references make sense and how many more topics you can engage with after reading several good books.
Set yourself a realistic goal of how many books to read a month; the amount will vary depending on the individual but whether it's one book a month or ten, there will be a tangible benefit.
Make sure to choose a book that will interest you. If you find the subject matter boring then you'll put the book down and wonder why you even bothered but if you find a book on a topic you love, you will fly through it and have a sense of accomplishment once you turn the final page.
It will all be alright in the end and if it's not alright it's not the end
Despite the current circumstances, remember this is time that you will never get back again. If your summer internship has been cancelled the decision won't change but you can control what you now do with this time. Find what elements mentioned above work for you, improve yourself and enjoy the journey.