With the cancellation of some in-person internships due to COVID-19, many organizations have turned to online alternatives. In the past year, virtual internships and working remotely have become increasingly common amongst the general population.
In June, the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research reported that 42 percent of people worked remotely. Online internships and virtual employment opportunities have expanded beyond local businesses, as various major corporations have adopted this model too — both Humana and Google have online internships, according to USA Today.
“At first, it was very difficult for me because it’s a very in-person thing,” senior Megan Japczyk, a clinical intern at the Salt & Light Coalition, said about her online internship. Japczyk, who’s double majoring in criminal justice and psychology, started working with the faith-based non-profit back in July, while at home.
Japczyk’s internship, which lasts until December, was originally supposed to be in-person. However, due to capacity rules outlined in Illinois’ COVID-19 response plan, the majority of the program has moved online.
Under phase four guidelines, Chicago mandates offices can only operate at 25 percent capacity.
The Salt & Light Coalition is “a grassroots movement breaking the cycle perpetuating trafficking with a simple solution: workforce development. Our workforce development program is designed to help women heal, empower, and thrive.”
Japczyk, 21, said she does her internship remotely through Zoom on Tuesdays, but she’s in-person on Thursdays.
“I definitely prefer in-person,” Japczyk said “I’m so grateful that I am able to at least go half in-person.”
Japczyk said a typical day at the Salt and Light Coalition includes helping “prep and greet the women” and various self-awareness exercises.
Senior Paulina Aragon said her online internship experience was not what she expected. Aragon, an Advertising and Public Relations major, began applying to internships back in January. However, various internships were eventually canceled.
Around May, Aragon said she shifted her approach in finding internships by seeking out remote ones. One of Aragon’s fellow classmates told her about the company they worked for and encouraged her to reach out.
“In 24 hours, I had an email scheduling an interview,” Aragon said, after reaching out to KCommunications — a communications company based out of Wicker Park. She began the following week from her home in the Bay Area.
Aragon, 21, said her virtual internship would usually begin with her checking in with her supervisors, being briefed on the day’s agenda, and getting assigned various tasks.
“I honestly give them a lot of credit,” Aragon said about her supervisors, who she also commended for being “super patient” and helpful for the interns.
Aragon said she was appreciative of the amount of responsibility interns were given.
“As an intern, if you have a good supervisor that’s going to really influence how you lead other things later on,” Aragon said.
A lasting piece of advice for Loyola students from Aragon is “to not give up” and “talk to your friends, classmates, and professors.”
Senior Martin Zugschwert’s internship took a different turn this summer due to pandemic. His internship is with iManage, a company in which he described it as “a tech firm for lawyers.”
After working there in-person during the summer of 2019, Zugschwert, 21, stayed with iManage and worked part-time with the company throughout the school year, from 10 to 20 hours each week. Currently, Zugschwert is working 15 to 20 hours each week remotely for iManage and does “cloud infrastructure,” which is in relation to his major computer science.
Zugschwert said while his work hasn’t changed much, social interactions with his coworkers have.
“When you’re not in the office, there’s no convenience of proximity, where you see [coworkers] you talk to them, it doesn’t happen as much,” Zugschwert said.
Students interested in finding an internship can attend the university’s career fairs, according to Brigette Peterson, associate director of employer operations and communications.
“Any student at Loyola can attend any of these fairs, no matter what their major is,” Brigette Peterson said.
Handshake, an online service that connects students to internship and job opportunities, is another way for students to secure an internship.
Since many internships are remote, students can now apply to opportunities in cities such as New York and Los Angeles without having to move across the country, Peterson said.