New skills, job offers, and work experience are just some of the opportunities that internships provide. However, Covid-19 has affected internships in all fields of study, changing the traditional internship experience. Despite these changes, South students continue to participate in and learn from these opportunities.
Covid-19 has made it even harder for students to find internships, John Klasen, director of college counseling said, making internships even more exclusive than they were before. Finding student internships without proper help and connections can be difficult, Klasen explained, adding that students searching for internships typically intern with local businesses and relatives during the summer.
“[Students have] a difficult time finding internships,” Klasen said. “This year, [internships are] on a decline. Oftentimes, internships are through family members, and they’re more difficult to find for someone who doesn’t have a connection.”
Students attain internships in a variety of ways. For example, junior Lauren Ravury is doing an internship this summer at Kode with Klossy, a coding camp for teenage girls, after being a camper there. She will be helping empower girls and teach them how to code.
Senior Ava Leipzig, on the other hand, sent about 200 emails to researchers across the country to get her internship last summer, she said, where she helped write a literature research paper regarding gender disparities in access to agricultural technologies. She added that this internship was based in Nepal, but she was able to participate virtually.
“Eventually after a month of just sending random emails, I got a positive reply back from this researcher who works with the international wheat and maize improvement center,” Leipzig said.
Additionally, Covid-19 has presented difficulties for some students during their internship, Ravury said. Her internship this summer will be entirely online, presenting new obstacles that she would not have experienced without the pandemic, she explained.
“[There are] challenges because there’s a lot that goes into it, like having to sit at a Zoom call,” Ravury said. “You have to concentrate and you also have to communicate with others through a screen, so it definitely is kind of challenging at times.”
Despite all the negative aspects Covid-19 has brought to internships, it has had some positive impacts on some students, too, Leipzig noted. Without the pandemic, Leipzig said she would not have even had the internship opportunity.
“I had planned to go to debate camp and that ended up being online in a much more flexible schedule,” Leipzig said. “In addition, all my vacations were canceled, [so] I had a lot more time on my hands. It was a much more reasonable time commitment [and] a good way to stay into research without it taking over my schedule.”
Internships allow students to expand their knowledge about the things that interest them and develop their skills, like Leipzig’s internship, which allowed her to learn more about food disparities, a topic she is passionate about, she explained.
“I didn’t totally understand what the internship was when I first started, but it was a great experience,” Leipzig said. “It really helped my writing and researching skills. I also learned a lot about a topic I was not exactly familiar with before I started.”
After her internship experience, she realized that working in research might be something she could pursue down the road.
“This internship taught me that research is something I love doing and is definitely something I can see myself doing in college,” Leipzig said. “So I will probably try to seek out research opportunities in the future.”
Even with the challenges of Covid-19, Ravury feels she is continuing to make an impact by helping empower female coders and believes opportunities like hers are beneficial for both students and the community.
“I think it’s really important to show that you are a part of your community and that you have something that you’re really passionate about,” Ravury said. “[Not only do] internships look good on college applications, but [they] give you the opportunity to put yourself in the shoes of the person that you might want to become.”