COVID makes internships harder for some students

After working hard to finish your degree, you finally graduate, proud of your accomplishment and are seeking a job related to your degree. One of the first questions you can expect a future employer to ask is “Do you have a resume?” or “Do you have any experience in this field?”

Unfortunately, during the pandemic, it can be especially hard to find internships. And not getting an internship can prevent many students from graduating. 

The internship coordinator for speech-language pathology, Amanda Elias, said there are no options for SPLP students to replace internships. SPLP students are required by the Creative Arts Agency to complete internships to graduate and receive certification. 

Elias said it’s been a struggle to find internships because of COVID-19. 

“Some facilities are very leery about letting students come into the facility, especially if that facility has high COVID numbers,” Elias said.

Most internship sites have many restrictions, which results in clinicians declining students from internships, according to Carolyn Murphy, an occupational therapy professor. 

Murphy also said that most clinicians are dealing with high levels of stress and burn out. They don’t want a student to add to their stress. Plus, students are restricted on what patients they can treat because of COVID. 

For other majors like health studies, nursing and accounting, there has been no change in finding internships. Many of these majors have switched either to virtual internships or continued in-person internships with restrictions.

Carter Saterfiel, a senior nursing major, has continued his internship normally. Saterfiel said compared to previous internships he’s had, it’s no different.

“As future nurses, we expect healthcare to always be changing. Times like now are what we are trained for,” Saterfield said. “I believe the need for the nurse—and our healthcare workers—has been recognized more globally than ever before.”

And while many students can get a virtual internship, their feelings about it are mixed. 

Myra Edwards, a junior health studies major, said she doesn’t feel as if her experience at her internship is as hands on as it would have been prior to COVID. She feels the lack of client interaction.

“I am unable to see any of the clients and learn about how their mannerisms coincide with the situation they went to therapy for,” Edwards said. “I am unable to see how counselors interact with their clients and to see how to properly handle a client while being face-to-face in a professional health care setting.”

Many financing students have not experienced the effects of having an internship because they switched to online, according to Arturo Rodriguez, a finance professor. But Rodriguez said international students are suffering from COVID internships as well. 

Most small businesses do not want to hire international students due to the rules set in place by the Trump administration and required paperwork from the Department of Homeland Security. 

“Employers are a little bit more hesitant to hire international students because after their permit expires or after they graduate, then they have to sponsor them with these ads and that’s a big expense for a small business,” Rodriguez said.