Earlier this spring, Rishik Lad was deep into the interview process for a coveted internship position at a San Francisco-based venture studio. The firm was going to hire a cohort of seven people and Lad, who is finishing up his first year at the University of California-Irvine, was a finalist. Then the coronavirus pandemic began spreading across the U.S. The San Francisco Bay Area was one of the first places in the nation to implement shelter-in-place guidelines and Lad’s internship hopes were dashed.
Indeed, Lad is not alone. According to a recent survey of employers conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), some 21.4% of firms have reduced the number of interns they plan on hiring this summer. Of those fortunate enough to land internships, the experience almost assuredly won’t be the same as a traditional one. Nearly half (46.2%) of those firms responding to the NACE survey are planning on moving their summer internship programs entirely virtual. And 41.1% plan on reducing the length of the internship by delaying the start date. Just 16.8% report they have not made any changes to their summer internship program.
Lad has seen it not only first-hand but also through his personal and professional networks and through internet research as he repositions his internship search as summer rapidly approaches. “What I’ve seen is that because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of the positions in venture capital — that are already so hard to get — a number of them were rescinded,” Lad tells Poets&Quants.
A ‘COVID-19 RESOURCE KIT FOR (COLLEGE) STUDENTS’
Through his searching, Lad has pieced together a helpful set of resources, which he published to Medium last month. Entitled “COVID-19 Resource Kit for Students,” Lad created the resource for people in his own networks. But as things can do on the internet, his Medium post began spreading rapidly. “Although my intention was to help people in my network, it has gone well beyond that. And that makes me happy,” Lad says.
Within the post ar 14 resources specifically for college internship seekers that have either already existed or spun out of the coronavirus pandemic’s havoc on the job market. At the top of the post is Sherpa, which Lad says has been his favorite resource so far. An online mentorship program, mainly for early career professionals, Lad says that he has been impressed by not only the high-quality mentors available on the platform, but also the breadth of industries in which they stretch across. “There’s a lot of people on there and you have the ability to connect with whoever you want,” he says.
Lad believes this could be an opportune time for younger college students like himself to build a network of mentors. “This is the best time to find a mentor and find support,” he says.
THE BEST TIME TO FIND A MENTOR?
Some of the more helpful new entities to crop up since the spread of the coronavirus includes Intern From Home and Corona Interns. Intern From Home is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a platform built to connect employers looking for interns to individuals looking to intern. And Corona Interns is a Slack thread specifically for students from specific schools looking to intern. A “.edu” email from specific universities is required to join.
Still, Lad says, what could be the most silver lining piece to his situation — and many others like him — is the ability to tap into the many resources popping up to help college students.
“If there’s ever been a time to find a mentor — which I think is crucially important both in your professional development and internship search — I think that time is now.”