The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Students struggle to find summer internships, jobs during shelter-in-place

Photo by Courtesy
Madi Collier, mechatronics engineering junior, completed the Disney College Program and hopes to one day work for the company full time.

Summer internships are a big part of a student’s college career. The experience students gain from working in the real world, even if it’s only for three months, is invaluable. For some, it’s even required to complete their degree.
However, the new coronavirus and ever extending shelter-in-place orders have gotten in the way of summer internships. Some companies have already canceled their internship programs altogether, while others have pushed back decision dates.
In a Facebook Live town hall, Carol A. Fierke, provost and executive vice president, advised professors and department heads to give leeway to students who may be struggling to meet internship requirements.
“We are certainly asking every program to be as flexible as possible with the requirements if there are things that through no fault of the student they cannot get done, to be as flexible as possible to finding some alternative ways that they can get that requirement taken care of,” Fierke said.
Samantha Wilson, Class of 1991 and executive director at the Texas A&M Career Center, encouraged students to reach out to any recruiters about any standing internship or job offers to make a back-up plan.
“Even if nothing has changed and your offers remain in place, create a backup plan for your career development opportunities,” Wilson said. “The Career Center can help you with this and can direct you to a wide range of resources to help support you in your career development.”

If an internship or job offer gets canceled, Wilson asks students to reach out to the Career Center by emailing [email protected]. If a student would like an appointment, they can schedule it on their website or view online handouts.
Students who need an internship for academic credit should reach out to their employer and their academic advisor about how to proceed, Wilson said.
“If your internship has been canceled, please contact your academic department to determine what your options are to fulfill the requirements of your degree, including alternate learning activities that may substitute for the internship experience,” Wilson said.
One degree requiring an internship is the journalism major and minor. Dale Rice, the professor who oversees the journalism internship requirement, advises students to think of ways they can help a company remotely.
“As much as we would like to hope that things will be back to normal this summer, there are indications that may not be the case,” Rice said. “A typical summer internship may not be appropriate. My recommendation is to look for an internship that will allow you to work remotely this summer.”
Rice said he has been contacted by students who are concerned about graduation and students who worry what will happen to internships they’ve already secured, but reminds everyone to be flexible in these uncertain times.
“Both students who anticipated having regular internships this summer and in fact found them are wondering if they will be able to move forward with those,” Rice said. “In all likelihood, no, they will not be able to move forward with normal internships beginning in May. I think they’re going to have to find one that will allow them to work remotely at least for the first half of the summer, if not for the full time.”
Rice also said he believes journalism is one field where it shouldn’t be too difficult for students to work remotely. However, students like Madi Collier, mechatronics engineering junior, will have more trouble finding work this summer.
Collier completed the Disney College Program and is now a seasonal employee. Since the parks are shut down until further notice, she said she’s worried about completing the required 150 hours to keep her employment status.
“I don’t really get as much protection as full time and part time,” Collier said. “All that we’ve been told is the parks are closed until further notice, which is stressful as seasonal because I only go back and work the hours I need to maintain my status over the summer.”
Collier said she hopes the company is flexible with employees with extenuating circumstances such as herself, but she is grateful that they put safety first.
“It’s heartbreaking,” Collier said. “Disney is the dream, and it’s so much harder to come into the company into an engineering job than it is to move up within the company.”
Collier notes her words and opinions are her own and not a reflection of Disney.

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