Now, nearly one full year into the COVID-19 pandemic, we are seeing the impact it is having on college recruiting throughout the entire cycle. For example, employers anticipate hiring fewer interns and co-ops this year than they did last year, according to NACE’s 2021 Internship & Co-op Survey Report.
The survey found that intern hiring is only expected to be down 0.5% this year; co-op hiring, however, is projected to fall by nearly 3%. (See Figure 1.) It is important to note that last year’s survey was conducted from early November to early February, and, therefore, responses were submitted before the coronavirus situation escalated into a pandemic and did not reflect the changes employers made to their college recruiting programs to account for it.
That context and the fact that expected intern hiring has not dropped off much this year underscores, among other things, the value employers place on internships and their willingness to make accommodations to their internship programs to account for the pandemic, primarily by shifting to virtual.
Among employers that are changing their intern and co-op hiring, 75% cited the needs and resources of the organization, 50% pointed to COVID-19, and 37% indicated the state of the market/economy as the drivers of these moves.
Data collection for NACE’s 2021 Internship & Co-op Survey Report took place from December 9, 2020, to February 5, 2021. There were 227 NACE member respondents representing 25.7 percent of eligible member respondents. The 2021 Internship & Co-op Survey was also distributed to nonmember companies from which an additional 39 responses were received. The survey report will be available later this month.
Figure 1: Hiring Projections for Interns & Co-ops: 2016-21