- Three-quarters of college students in an April 10 to April 12 survey by College Reaction said internships or post-graduate jobs they secured had been canceled, moved remote or delayed amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The poll, which captured the responses of 822 students, also found that about 90% were at least moderately concerned about the pandemic's impact on the U.S. job market and economy. Most (71%) were concerned about job and internship opportunities, while some 65% were concerned about their personal financial situation.
- Respondents also indicated that the pandemic has taken a toll on their mental health, with more than half citing mental health distress as a result of the pandemic. Sixty-seven percent said they were concerned about the effects of social isolation.
The writing is on the wall for recruiters and job seekers. A March survey by Willis Towers Watson found that 42% of companies had either reduced or frozen hiring in response to COVID-19, while an additional 28% were at least considering doing so. The pandemic's impact on hiring has also shown up in statistics for job boards, with Indeed reporting near the end of March that job posts on its site were down 15% from the same point last year.
College students in many areas face the prospect that their internships and early career goals will be set back. Employers ranging from the Walt Disney Co. to Yelp have canceled, delayed or otherwise altered upcoming internship programs, although some report that their offers are still up in the air, according to sources who previously spoke to HR Dive.
Some employers are pledging to carry on with their plans in spite of the pandemic. Citigroup said it would delay its summer analyst internship program by several weeks, but the company added it would pay interns during the delay and guarantee full-time offers to interns at certain locations, provided they meet the program's minimum requirements.
Others have pulled from the playbooks of workplaces and schools by moving internship programs to the web. Microsoft said it would shift from hosting 4,000 students on its campuses this summer — slated to be the largest program in the company's history — to preparing a virtual experience that will allow interns to "co-create their summer experience," the company said in a April 6 statement. "Micro-internship" provider Parker Dewey similarly announced it would assist partner organizations with moving their internships remote as an alternative to cancellation.
The College Reaction poll captures another aspect of the pandemic: its toll on emotional and financial well-being. Previously, an Axios poll conducted with research firm Ipsos found evidence of both declining access to mental health resources and worsening mental health among U.S. workers. But HR departments can take action to address mental health issues related to the pandemic. This can include expanding access to therapy services for workers and instituting engagement measures like virtual happy hours or water coolers to encourage socialization.