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COVID-19 Impact: Online Internships? Tips for Data Science & Analytics Students & Employers

May 27, 2020

Among the many cascading effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has been how data science & analytics students are seeing their internships derailed. While some have been seen internships outright cancelled, the majority of companies seem to be attempting to move their internships programs online or remote, which is not without its challenges.Note: this blog focuses on impacts to 2020 data science & analytics internship programs, but you can read more about our findings on how COVID-19 has impacted quantitative graduates looking to enter the workforce in this post.We spoke to students and professors from about 30 different data science & analytics programs across the US, and almost all of them said that students from their program had their job search or internships impacted by COVID-19 in some way. Some other challenges we heard about have been:

  1. Some companies are moving forward but shortening the length of their program.
  2. Logistical issues providing students with technology to participate (such as laptops).
  3. Programs may not be able to accommodate international students who have already left the country.
  4. Uncertainty about whether internships will be able to translate to full-time opportunities.

While students that we spoke to have been grateful when companies are willing to adapt their programs and not cancel internships, in general many are anxious to see how things will work out and concerned about whether their position will potentially develop into full-time employment.Whether you’re a student completing a virtual internship or an employer looking to keep your analytics interns engaged, we wanted to offer a few tips and other topics to think about as everyone tries to adapt to a continually changing work environment.

Tips for Data Science & Analytics Interns

  1. Be patient as companies work to make their internship programs online-only, or as they work to integrate different technologies into their programs.
  2. Take advantage of digital networking opportunities and other chances to meet company leadership or your coworker to stay connected! Internships are a great opportunity to expand your analytics network, but now you might have to be more proactive about doing this in a remote office environment.
  3. Does your internship/employer offer digital learning opportunities or other resources? Look into other ways to expand your learning.
  4. Keep up with industry news and how COVID-19 is impacting analytics teams in different industries, our Analytics Impact surveys offer some insights into how this is evolving.

Tips for Employers Hosting Data Science & Analytics Interns

  1. Think about how to keep internship programs varied and engaging, offering different types of projects and a mix of different learning resources (video tutorials, self-directed projects, etc.).
  2. Be explicit about outcomes, especially if some of your managers are used to being less structured, you may have to give interns more direction in a remote work environment.
  3. Use technology platforms to help facilitate networking and face-to-face contact, WebEx, Slack, Teams, Zoom, have all been popular choices.
  4. Think about the experiences you want interns to have, some options could include: leadership series, social events, 1-on-1 mentoring, virtual hang outs, office hours so students and mentors can meet, weekly virtual lunch or meeting with the internship group, weekly challenges or lunch & learns, and other opportunities for interns and coworkers to get to know each other.
  5. Think about how you will evaluate interns to potentially transition to full-time: how will they be evaluated? What criteria are most important? Will your office remain remote? Etc.

Internship Cancelled?

If your internship plans have been cancelled, our advice is to continue to work on projects and develop your skills any way you can. This might mean online learning opportunities, charity data projects, or other ways to keep your skills sharp. Although it’s very understandable to be worried about this when you’re eventually job searching, companies will also realize that there may be a gap in employment due to the pandemic’s drastic effects on so many people, so try to just focus on the things that are within your control.