As a result of the pandemic, many students have faced the unfortunate cancellation of their internships. However, there are many ways that you can grow professionally, even without access to traditional, in-person internships and networking opportunities.
1. Look for virtual internships and volunteer positions
First and foremost, look for virtual opportunities. Many prominent organizations are currently seeking help through remote, virtual internships. Try looking on local job boards, websites such as ZipRecruiter or Indeed, as well as your school’s job search websites. Even if you are unable to find a virtual internship, try looking into volunteer positions. Maybe a nonprofit organization that aligns with your passions and interests is looking for volunteers to assist with administrative duties during the semester. Virtual internships present a unique opportunity to learn about and work with organizations or companies from all over the country, or even the world. While an internship may have been unfeasible in the past due to relocation or housing fees, you can now participate in incredible learning opportunities from the comfort of your own home.
2. Build your resume with online courses
If you’re unable to find any online opportunities, try to find other ways to build up your resume to become a better candidate. Perhaps you can spend this time learning a new skill that would make you more attractive to a future employer. Are you interested in research or bioinformatics? Learn how to code and perform data analysis with a myriad of free courses available online. Or perhaps you can spend time reading papers and building your understanding of new findings in the field. Are you interested in working for a nonprofit? Perhaps it would be useful to learn how to make PR materials using software like Canva or photoshop. The possibilities are endless. With so many online courses available for free, you can spend this time learning something that can make you a more informed and strong candidate for future employment opportunities.
3. Learn more about your career
It may also be useful to spend some learning about your future career. Internships provide valuable insight into what a specific career is like; however, just because an internship got canceled doesn’t mean you can’t learn about a specific job. Contact a professional that is in your career of interest and try to set up a virtual informational interview. This allows you to hear firsthand from people in the field about their career paths, educational experiences, and day-to-day life in their careers. This will also give you the opportunity to network and build your connections within the field, as well as receive valuable advice on what skills are needed for the job.
4. Take it one step at a time
Obviously, this is much easier said than done. This pandemic has caused immense anxiety in many students; for many, this is a crucial time for students to gain real-world experience to prepare them for the job market or graduate school. However, this is an unprecedented time for everyone, and just know that many people are in the same boat. Everyone’s plans have been disrupted, and we are all navigating the unknown together. Unfortunately, there are many things that are out of our control. The best thing we can do right now is try to control the things that we can. So start small: learn something new, read about something that interests you, talk to people, and don’t be afraid to reach out to your mentors or peers for help. Make sure you take care of your mental health, as well. Engaging in meditation, exercise, or other hobbies that put you in a positive mental space is important and great use of time. The past few months have been hectic and confusing, and it’s only natural to feel stressed. Focus on incremental improvements, and just know that hard work never goes to waste. You can do this!
Author : Chloe Yang