1 April 2020

How is Coronavirus Affecting Placements, Internships and Insights?

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The coronavirus pandemic has triggered a wave of serious changes. Like not being able to nip to your local for a cheeky beverage (or two) after a long day of lectures. That stuff is important. 

But there are probably other things you might be concerned about. Like whether or not your placement, internship or insight scheme will be affected. So, this blog will help you discover:

  • How placements, internships and insight schemes have been affected.
  • What employers are doing in terms of recruitment, in response to coronavirus.
  • The answers to common questions asked by students in regards to coronavirus.

What’s going on?

Coronavirus has seriously rocked the boat. 

The ISE (Institute of Student Employers) has stated that ​short-term student work experience like internships and insight schemes will be reduced by almost a third (31%) of businesses. And 68% of employers have cancelled work experience and short-term insight opportunities.

Considering most of these schemes run over Easter break, this shouldn’t come as too much of a shock. Especially with the government severely restricting any non-essential activities.

But, it’s not all doom and gloom. 

Many employers are still hiring students

Advice on insight schemes

An insight scheme or vacation scheme is a short-term period of work experience usually for first-year students. They occur over a period from one to ten days, typically during the Easter break

The general consensus across employers offering insight schemes is that they will not run as initially planned. Most firms have already frozen recruitment for these schemes.

But don’t fret. That does not mean you’ve lost out.

What are companies doing for students with secured insight schemes?

  • Rescheduling schemes for a later date.
  • Offering virtual training and development opportunities as a replacement for cancelled schemes.
  • Reassuring accepted students that they’ll still be considered for graduate schemes and training contracts – likely through a ‘fast-tracked’ graduate recruitment application.

Here are how some firms are responding to COVID-19:

Baker McKenzie was scheduled to run a spring vacation scheme in April. Students accepted onto this scheme have instead been offered a place on their summer vacation programme.

EY redesigned their March insight days so they could run online.

Goldman Sachs has postponed their spring insight programme. In the meantime, they’re offering ‘bespoke virtual sessions’ and ‘virtual buddies’ to mentor students already recruited onto the scheme.

Advice on internships

Internships are full-time, paid work experience schemes that typically take place during summer time. They last between one to four months.

There is still a lot of uncertainty around how long the current coronavirus pandemic will last. Because of this, there are various approaches being implemented by employers on a company-by-company basis in regard to internship programmes.

This depends on the industry, the size of the company and its capacity for adaption.

How are internships being affected by coronavirus?

  • Firms are freezing recruitment until there is more clarity on whether internships will be going ahead.
  • Recruitment processes have been moved online.
  • Some have been cancelled and replaced with online mentoring and training schemes.

Here are how some firms are responding to COVID-19:

HSBC are adapting their recruitment process for their current pool of summer internship applicants by conducting virtual assessment centres.

Shoosmiths have cancelled their summer programme, but say “we will be arranging alternative ways to engage with our people including more #ShoosmithsLIVE videos and Q&As”.

Advice on placements

Placements are 6-12 month programmes during which a student spends their academic year working for an organisation as a full-time paid employee, in between their penultimate and final year at university.

Because placements usually start during late summer, some firms are taking a ‘business-as-usual’ approach for now. Others are waiting on further developments to be able to justify recruitment for these roles.

Most firms are yet to share how coronavirus will affect their placement schemes.

How are (or will) placements being affected by coronavirus?

  • Some firms, like those in hard-hit industries, will inevitably cancel this year’s placement schemes.
  • The start dates of placements might be pushed back. This is to provide time for admin duties to be carried out by full-time staff so that placements are set up and organised to run effectively.
  • Placement years could continue as normal – though recruitment is likely to be moved online.

Some good news:

IBM has adopted a ‘business-as-usual’ approach. They are aiming to recruit their usual number of placement students. Their strategy so far:

  • Carry out all recruitment processes virtually – assessment centres have been replaced by more robust, in-depth online interviews.
  • Inductions for placement students could potentially move online with students starting their placements remotely (dependent on government advice at the time).
  • Potentially reopening applications in the near future, to fill any remaining vacancies.

Help yourself – be proactive

A placement year is compulsory for my course. What if my employer cancels mine?

We understand this is worrying. But, the current situation is an exceptional circumstance. Your university will not penalise you.

You may have to return to your final year, find another placement scheme (where possible), or do a ‘gap year’. Speak directly to your careers office for the next steps.

What is employer ‘X’ doing about the work experience scheme I have been accepted onto?

For that, we recommend you directly contact your employer. They may have even already sent out comms via their website, social media or email (so make sure to check your spam folder as well).

For example, PwC released social media statements informing students that they’re reviewing student enquiries case by case. You will not be left in the lurch. But, these things take time to process, so be patient.

I am still looking for a placement or internship. Will I be able to secure one?

The short answer is yes. There are firms that are still recruiting. And if they are, they will most likely have a contingency plan if the scheme is unable to run in-person e.g. virtual offerings. Click here to search for Placements and Internships.

Need application support? Read this our blog, How to Write a Student CV.

That’s a lot of information to digest. But, it’s important you are aware of all the possibilities and can prepare for all eventualities.

Remember that things are changing daily. So maintain a clear dialogue with your employers and careers office so that you stay up to date.

If you do miss out on a work experience opportunity, don’t worry. You can still give some oomph to your CV. Learn How to Boost Your CV Whilst In Self-Isolation.