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How IU is helping students navigate summer internships through COVID-19


A car drives April 22, 2019, past the Monroe County Courthouse. Jennifer Schepers, director of the Paul H. O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs Career Hub, said students in the school are supposed to have 120 hours of internship credit through the school in order to graduate. IDS file photo and Sarah Zygmuntowski

The coronavirus pandemic has upended students’ summer plans. Some jobs and internships were converted to remote work, and others were canceled altogether. 

While people are seeking to adhere to social distancing guidelines, students are becoming concerned, as many are looking for internships or need them in order to graduate.

Jennifer Schepers, director of the Paul H. O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs Career Hub, said students in the school are supposed to have 120 hours of internship credit through the school to graduate. 

She said when the semester went online, she worked with colleagues in the school and across the nation to come up with projects, such as conducting in-depth research and creating their own professional development plans, students could do to gain hours in place of internships. 

Some students in SPEA have either had their internship offers rescinded or couldn’t find one in general due to the pandemic Schepers said. She said for students who need to get their 120 hours of credit, there will be a class offered during the summer, fall and spring semester to help students develop skills they would ordinarily get in an internship. The class will also count toward their required 120 internship hours.

“The biggest parts of internships that are most important for students, is that they get that skill development and really enhance their resumes,” Schepers said. “In this class we are going to work really hard to help them develop some of those skills.” 

Schepers also said the school is partnering with Parker Dewey, an organization that connects college students with work opportunities, to advertise short-term, professional assignments called micro-internships, which will help students to work toward their 120 required internship hours.

Sarah Cady, an associate director of employer relations in the Walter Center for Career Achievement, said the center is taking steps to help ease stress of students regarding summer internships and employment after graduating.

Along with calling all of the College of Arts and Sciences graduating class to check in with them, she said the Center has created a now-hiring list on the Center’s website with up-to-date information on internship positions and full-time offers. 

“I would tell students to get in touch with their career services office to help navigate through all of the searching,” Cady said. “Their offices are there to help.”

IU freshman Wade Fletcher said said he knew finding internships was going to be a problem for students, so he created an aggregator, which is a database that has remote internship listings, called Covintern

Fletcher said he posted the aggregator on Linkedin and found and uploaded the first 20 internship offers to the aggregator. Recruiters can email him to update the list or they can go into the website and directly list a job on it. 

“At the time of the extended spring break, I still did not have an internship,” Fletcher said. “I knew that was a problem other students were going to experience too.” 

Since the creation of Covintern, Fletcher has been hired to do software engineering remotely. He said he hopes Covintern will help other students to find internships as well.

“I’m glad I’ve been able to help people during this weird time,” Fletcher said. 

IU freshman Owen Worple said his summer internship was canceled Wednesday. He was going to be working with individual start-up companies.

“I wasn’t surprised the internship got canceled,” Worple said. “With everything going on, I thought it was coming.”  

Worple said he is concerned, as he is at a loss of what to do this summer because there is only a little over a week before the end of the semester.

“I want to find a job, so I’m looking for another internship now,” Worple said. “I want to have something to do to put on my resume."

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