Updated: Feb 9, 2021
Sara Wegmann, President, Her Next Play
With the economic impact of COVID-19 increasing, student-athletes are continuing to see their summer plans change. One college softball player we talked with last week had her first internship cancelled, quickly pivoted and found another internship, only to have that one cancelled as well.
It’s discouraging and frustrating, but as athletes you can use the resilience, tenacity, and ability to pivot that you’ve learned through sports in this tough situation. If your internship has been cancelled, how do you come up with a new game plan?
Revisit Your Goals
What were you hoping to get out of your internship? Internships are valuable for many reasons. They give you real world experience, and help build your skillset and resume. They provide an opportunity for you to test drive a job, industry, or company to see if it’s a good fit for you. Internships also allow you to build relationships with professionals in your career field, and provide a source of income.
Think about what is most important in your internship experience. Is it experience, learning a particular skill, connections, money, or finding out what career might be a good fit?
While many industries have been hard hit by COVID-19, there are still industries and companies that are growing and hiring. Can you pivot and get experience or build your skillset in a different industry? Sectors like in home entertainment (Disney+, Netflix), education (Coursera, Udemy, Udacity, Schoology), technology (Zoom, Slack), health care (COVID-19 research and testing), food/grocery delivery (Amazon, Instacart, Shipt, Grubhub, Doordash, etc.), and social media (Facebook, Houseparty) are hiring to keep up with increased demand. Think about your internship goals and whether you can meet them in a different industry or job than you planned.
Engage Your Team
Connections are always critical to finding internships, and this is even more true in a tough economy. Reach out to your “team” – parents’ friends, friends’ parents, current and past coaches, former teammates, professors, and others you know to help you find internship opportunities. And engage your alumni network. Use your Career Center or LinkedIn to find alumni connections that can help you network your way into companies that are still hiring.
If you have financial flexibility, get creative to find ways to build the skills, connections, and experience you need outside a traditional internship. Consider pitching a small company or a non-profit on an unpaid internship, or a short consulting project. Find a volunteer experience that will help you build your skills and experience. Do informational interviews with alumni who work in the industry you aspire to so you start to build your professional network and connections. While internships might be harder to find, there are still many creative ways to build your skills, connections and experience so you are well positioned for your next play once the economy improves.
Be Patient and Politely Persistent
In this environment, none of us knows what tomorrow will bring. While a lot of hiring is on hold, it won’t be forever. Don’t give up. Use the tenacity and grit you’ve developed as an athlete. Stay in the game and be proactive about looking for opportunities. Keep in touch with the recruiters you’ve been working with during your internship search. Follow up periodically, in a polite and reasonable manner, on potential internships, and future openings. You want to be top of mind when hiring resumes. And it will!