Summer 2020 internships have taken a big hit and many organizations are making tough financial decisions in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Some open positions are now being offered virtually, while other positions have been temporarily or permanently closed, and we are seeing more and more frequently that hiring processes are on hold. While reduction in availability is deeply concerning, there are still ways for students to build professional experience as graduate students in the era of COVID-19.  

  • Consider opportunities previously overlooked. Re-evaluate the possibility of working in markets such as Washington D.C., San Francisco or New York, that are now within reach as internships shift to virtual. For public sector work, as local and state governments may be beginning hiring freezes, we encourage you to check out federal opportunities and special districts as they rush to support residents through coronavirus relief work. If an announcement does not specify if the opportunity is virtual, apply anyways and send a follow-up inquiry!  

  • Consider unpaid or volunteer positions. While the Evans School encourages all employers to properly compensate their interns, organizational budgets in many industries are contracting, even as the need for skilled public leaders abounds. The value of gaining experience and generating work samples in a volunteer position will bolster your applications for compensated positions. There is often more flexibility with an unpaid position, so ask to work non-traditional or reduced hours if necessary, to balance your other commitments and financial obligations. 

  • Consider non-traditional experiential learning opportunities. Case competitions, fellowships, research projects with faculty, on-campus roles, Board or Commission service, and/or participation in leadership or development programs all demonstrate skill and belong on your resume or in your work portfolio. If an organization is not advertising for research or project support, reach out anyways. Share your interest in their mission and inquire about opportunities to support a project they otherwise would not have had the capacity for. 

When traditional internship opportunities diminish, there are still ways to build relevant experience and demonstrate resiliency, creativity, and drive. The Career Development team is here and ready to brainstorm creative alternatives with you. And, as a reminder for current students, the Evans School has created a waiver for the 400-hour professional experience requirement should a student feel this is necessary in their circumstances.  

Questions? Reach out to Director of Career Development Shannon Merchant at evansjob@uw.edu.