For college students, internships are among the ways to gain experience in their fields of interest. They allow students hands-on work, which may help determine their future career path.
Certain colleges within Iowa State even have an internship requirement instated for students to be eligible for graduation. While it may be a helpful push for many to attain relevant work experience, it currently may also be an additional stress on students, as many companies shut down for weeks on end or delay workplace openings during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Anna Erickson, senior in community and regional planning, started the month of March juggling three different internship offers with event management companies. March ended with two companies never responding to her emails about acceptance information, while the other continues to push her start date further into the summer.
“[My internship] is not going to happen,” Erickson said. “I know it’s not going to happen. They say they’re holding out hope and saying ‘Oh by the end of May we hope to have you here,' but they never gave me an exact date. But their communication, I would say, is the best it can be during a time like this.”
Erickson was planning on setting up, preparing and tearing down events of 300 people or more. She said after all of her inquiries with the company, nobody has given her a 'no,' but no one is giving her a 'yes' either, leading to a frustrating, one-sided interaction.
Erickson has remained in Ames after the switch to virtual instruction, but said she’s not sure how she is going to pay her rent or tuition. She anticipates finding odd jobs to keep some flow of income to make ends meet.
“I get it,” Erickson said. “As a business it’s very hard, but also as a student I’m trying to pay bills, I’m trying to gain experience in my college for my career, I’m trying to build a resume and no one is giving me the opportunity to.”
Ellen Reed, senior in horticulture, shared the same exasperation. Reed had an apartment lined up in Boston and an internship as a plant production intern at an arboretum before Boston became a hot spot for COVID-19.
Reed's internship got canceled fairly quickly, but she said she was given continuous updates from her company on her position status. She was supposed to work from May to August, but now finds herself job hunting at local garden centers to try to gain more experience in her career field.
In an ideal world, Reed would help to implement or manage green spaces within communities, whether that be in a public garden or arboretum. Her job during the school year is corn breeding as a research assistant and her job last summer was in a breeding greenhouse.
“The [canceled internship] was supposed to be a little bit different where I got to see more of a public garden aspect, which I want to do for my career,” Reed said. “It would have been more beneficial to me, where I actually enjoy that kind of thing. It definitely feels like a career setback, and a wasted summer of college where I could figure out if what I want to do is actually what I want to do with my life.”