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Internships during the pandemic take on a new face, but are still around

An essential part of most college students’ post-graduation success is obtaining an internship during their time as an undergraduate within their field of study. Course work is the core to a successful completion of school, providing students with the essential knowledge and tools for their future, but interning allows students to utilize their learned skills and implement them in a real-world scenario. 

“I landed my first internship by simply networking,” said Tamesha Bolden, accounting major. “A mutual friend’s mom was an executive at First Tennessee. My resume was passed along to her, and she connected me with the right people. I definitely learned quickly that it is not about what you know but about who you know. I believe that they have all prepared me for the real world. I understand what the expectations of ‘Corporate America’ are and how to apply them. I now understand that appearance matters, how to communicate with any and every one and the importance of the quality of work you give.” 

An internship bridges the gap between learning and experiencing. Although students are taught a truckload of textbook information during their time in college, it does not leave students fully prepared to dive deep into their career. Interning provides the space for students to network and connect with their possible future employers. 

In some cases, students attend classes in hope of only receiving a passing grade. However, in an internship there are no accolades for digesting new material. While landing an internship helps students prepare for their future, it is not the easiest position to seek out. 

“When looking for internships, always be yourself, but the best version of yourself,” Bolden said. “Speak with confidence and do not be afraid to just walk up someone or send a random email. Anything can happen. The worst they could say is no. The pandemic led to the company I was interning at to move everything virtually. It was cut to one month instead of two. It was weird not being able to network outside of the team I was working with. I had to do way more than usual to connect with different people.” 

Many students continue to try to navigate the new dynamic of internships that has been created through the ongoing pandemic. Even though the virus continues to change the way things take place, there are no fewer opportunities for students. Students gaining internships amid the pandemic are learning to adapt to their careers in a different light. 

As more vaccines continue to be distributed, students should look forward to more face-to-face opportunities to emerge, allowing them to enjoy the fullness of their internship. On the flip side, many companies have switched to a virtual experience. 

Internships contribute to the overall value of a collegiate education. Companies are more likely to hire graduates who have gained experience through hands-on work during their time in college. Many companies are also likely to hire their interns once they graduate. 

“My school regularly did internships for seniors with LeBonheur, Boys and Girls Club and Mooretech,” said Jada Fifer, a biology and genetics major. “However, LeBonheur was my internship of choice. I spent the majority of my life being hospitalized. 

“After I was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at 4-years-old, I had a really good experience there. Every week we would switch departments with each other since there were only 10 of us working at this internship. For example, we would be switched between radiology, nursing, food services, pharmacy and just basically any position that LeBonheur offers. We did that.” 

The difference between students with an internship under their belts and students without one, is applied knowledge and experience. An internship can amplify what the student has soaked in during their classes. 

Many of the departments at the UofM require students to find an internship within their major. The University of Memphis wants to ensure that each of their students is well-equipped with the knowledge and the experience to have a successful future.

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