This summer is looking to unfold very differently than anyone could have planned for. As social distancing guidelines due to the novel coronavirus outbreak have been extended through May in Michigan, many students’ summer plans have been altered. Study abroad trips have been canceled and full-time offers and internships have been rescinded, postponed or transformed into virtual experiences.
Despite these difficult times, many Broad Spartans have shown resiliency to secure job and internship opportunities, overcoming abrupt adjustments, staying productive and acting in the “Spartans Will” spirit.
From traditional to virtual
Sam Yarsike, a senior in accounting, was set to join PricewaterhouseCoopers as an audit intern in Detroit for eight weeks after graduation. Not surprisingly, the internship had to be adjusted, and Yarsike will now be part of a virtual two-week “digital upskilling experience.”
“I think this decision by PwC speaks on their values as they are still committed to giving their interns an experience,” Yarsike said. Although he was disappointed to miss out on an in-office experience, he remains excited for the new program.
“It’s important to realize that everyone is being affected by this,” Yarsike said. “We all must stay optimistic and look towards the future. While it may be hard to imagine now, there will be plenty of opportunities in the future for students to gain that internship experience.
“My Broad education has prepared me to adapt by teaching us that obstacles are just a part of life,” he continued. “Whether it be related to a business, or as an individual, handling these obstacles makes us stronger.”
Elizabeth Ahl, a junior in supply chain management, will have a remote internship experience this summer with medical technology supplier Edwards Lifesciences. Ahl secured her internship months ago, during the fall semester, and although her experience will no longer take place at the company’s campus in Irvine, California, she noted the company is hopeful about welcoming interns to the campus later this summer.
Ahl urged students to use this time to strengthen their skill set for their intended field. “I think the most important thing to remember is that recruiters will understand next fall when you try again to find employment,” she said. “It will stand out if you can show that you made the best of a horrible time and adapted to the changes with a positive mindset.”
Like Ahl, business-admitted sophomore Vedaant Garg secured his supply chain internship with Kellogg’s during the fall semester. Kellogg’s has also adapted its summer internship program from in-person to entirely virtual.
Garg explained how he has tried to stay as productive as possible while working from home. “I understand it may be hard to find motivation right now,” he said. “But networking and reading books in fields that interest you are ways to improve your knowledge, so you are not behind when all this passes over.”
Resiliency to find new opportunities
Supply chain management junior Lucia Do and second-year MBA student Sahil Garg were both forced to adapt at the last minute. When each of their offers were rescinded, they didn’t lose hope. They were resilient and immediately began their search again for new positions.
Reaching out through his professional network, Sahil turned to LinkedIn and applied online to find new opportunities. “The key is to stay strong and believe in yourself,” he said. He recommended reaching out to recruiters now to stand out when companies begin to hire again.
To turn her situation around, Do sought guidance from Broad faculty and the Russell Palmer Career Management Center.
Kristen Hintz, associate director of the Palmer Center, commented on the perseverance she’s observed in students facing hardship. “Of course, it is very disheartening to hear about students who have worked so hard to obtain these jobs — sometimes months ago — and who were so excited to join the company they had committed to,” she said. “However, I am consistently amazed at their overwhelmingly positive attitude and resilience, including their ability to move forward and seek other opportunities immediately.”
Ultimately, both Sahil and Do were able to pivot quickly and, in a matter of weeks, land new internship offers at Rivian, an automotive parts manufacturer, which is still deciding if it will conduct the program in person or virtually.
“I am so proud of our Broad Spartans,” added Marla McGraw, director of the Palmer Center. “They’re handling the disappointment of changes to their summer plans with grace while working hard to find other options to gain skills and knowledge during the time they may have available to them.”
Do believes the disruption caused by COVID-19 will only increase students’ determination to get internships next year. “I believe acquiring an internship next year will be even more competitive,” Do said. “Students who managed to get an internship for this summer will also have greater opportunities in the future.”
Resources to aid disruption
These students are just a small representation of what many Spartans are facing right now in an uncertain hiring environment. In response, the Palmer Center has put forth an effort to engage with students in new and inventive ways throughout the crisis and meet their changing career needs.
“The Palmer team is the career lifeline for Broad students, providing support, encouragement, options and information — and we’re incredibly grateful to be there for our students during this challenging time,” McGraw said.
From weekly online career coaching and one-on-one mentoring sessions to special newsletters featuring hot jobs to comprehensive guidelines and tips for students to adjust their job search, the Palmer Center has taken the lead to aid students amid disruption. Students can learn best practices for conducting live and prerecorded video interviews and for attending a virtual career fair, how to respond to delayed offers or changes, how to manage stress related to career management and special circumstances for international students to consider.
“Obviously, we did not anticipate or plan for this situation, but it is very much part of our DNA to be there for students regardless of the circumstances,” McGraw said. “Our students have been amazing examples of ‘Spartans Will!’”