Ideas for Internship and Job Searching during COVID-19
By Allie Erenbaum and Laura Ambrosio
We are living in uncertain times. The COVID-19 crisis is making it difficult for students and recent graduates to find and secure internships and job opportunities. Some students are seeing summer internship plans dissolve, while others are facing challenges in navigating new virtual interview processes. While organizations continue to reduce their budgets, cut back programs and transition to fully remote work environments, young professionals are seeing their goals and plans shift.
If you are feeling nervous about the future or frustrated about your five-year plan changing, you are not alone. Although you may be feeling stressed, there is still hope. From making your application stand out to learning best practices for interviewing, consider these resources to help navigate through these uncertain times:
- Refresh your digital brand. Update your LinkedIn and other social media channels to ensure they are clear, professional and full of your own personal flair. If you are interested in graphic design, consider making a portfolio website to showcase your work. If you’re hoping to become a tech savvy content producer, try making your own YouTube channel. If you know what kind of PR clients you’d like to have, follow reporters on Twitter that report have a beat you’re interested in (e.g., healthcare, transportation, technology) and engage with their content.
- Get ready to apply. Update your resume and cover letter to be tailored and use keywords from specific job descriptions. Work with your school’s career counseling services, a mentor, a trusted friend or family member to get items reviewed. Optimize your resume for online applications through tools like Jobscan and Skillsyncer.
- Prepare for virtual interviews. Video and phone interviews will become more common as in-person meetings are put on hold. Practice and record responses to commonly asked questions, and make sure to test audio and video technology in advance.
- Leverage your school’s alumni network. Now more than ever, virtual networking matters – emailing, phone calls and video chats make it easy to form new relationships or strengthen old ones. Filter people on LinkedIn by your university or a company, and ask for virtual coffee meetings to discuss how they got started in the field and what insight they have into current openings.
- Explore virtual opportunities. Apart from your regular search, try focusing some time on searching remote job boards or virtual career fairs. Consider following companies that you are interested in applying for on social media, since their feeds may highlight available opportunities. Popular job searching platforms like Indeed are offering on-demand resources to help individuals prepare for the current environment. Consult your university career services groups and review remote job board lists like here, here and here for more ideas.
- Learn something new. If you have the time, consider working towards developing a new skill. Several companies, universities and associations are offering free or discounted virtual learning opportunities. Beyond virtual PRSA-NCC events, check out: LinkedIn Learning, General Assembly Education, Skillshare, Udemy and Coursera.
As a young professional, the pressure to find an internship or job may feel overwhelming. No matter what is going on in the world, remember to be kind to yourself. Tap into your support network, stay connected with friends and family and find time to practice self-care.
Since we are one of the largest and most diverse PRSA chapters in the country, we are here to mentor, support and guide you in any way that we can. For more support, review the PRSA-NCC Job Board, PRSA National Job Board and reach out to our members.
About the Authors
Laura Ambrosio is a strategic communications professional and a chair of the PRSA-NCC University Relations Committee.
Allie Erenbaum is a Senior Consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton specializing in strategic communications and public affairs. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for PRSA-NCC and previously co-chaired the chapter’s University Relations Committee.