Then the pandemic hit, triggering lockdown restrictions and pushing the U.S. economy into recession. Many companies canceled their internships programs and rescinded job offers - including NTT Data, where Rashid was set to intern.
“I was really upset, not just because finding an internship is hard, but because I actually was very excited to work with them very specifically,” said Rashid, 21. He said he bears no ill-will to the company and is looking for other internship opportunities. “But, you know, as time goes on, it gets a little less optimistic.”
Rashid’s experience shows how the global coronavirus crisis, which has already thrown much of the business world into turmoil, is also disrupting summer internships, an important stepping stone to working life for many university students and recent graduates.
Half of all internship openings in the U.S. have been cut since the pandemic outbreak, and 64% of those in the U.K., according to research by Glassdoor, the career website. Hundreds of companies, including AirBnb, Fedex, Gap and Walt Disney Co., have scrapped their summer programs, according to an online database.
Companies use summer internships as a pipeline for recruiting graduates while young people benefit from exposure to real working life. They can serve as a source of income or a graduation requirement.
More than one in every six young workers globally have stopped working during the pandemic, the International Labor Organization said last month. The U.N. labor agency added that the pandemic’s long-term fallout could lead to a “lockdown generation” scarred throughout their working lives.
Some companies are making their internships virtual — mirroring the work-from-home trend that’s swept office life during the pandemic.
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June 20, 2020