Addressing Student Gap Years in an Internship Program

October 5, 2020 | By NACE Staff

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TAGS: best practices, coronavirus, Internships, nace insights, operations,

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Although internship eligibility at Auto-Owners Insurance Company requires that a student be enrolled in college, in certain cases, the company did make accommodations for summer interns who did not return to school because of COVID-19.

“We allowed these students to stay on as interns during the school year,” explains Rhonda Wolverton, manager, Auto-Owners Insurance Company.

“However, if they're not enrolled again by March or April for the summer or fall 2021, then they won't be eligible for our summer 2021 internship again. We only allowed this for students who have already been an intern for us once and we made it known that it's an accommodation.”

Wolverton says that a gap year doesn’t disqualify students from being considered for internships, but they do have to be enrolled to be eligible for an internship.

“If they’ve experienced a gap year,” she says, “we will welcome them to apply once they’re enrolled again.”

This has been and will continue to be standard operating procedure for Auto-Owners Insurance Company.

“Our internship program is a recruiting tool where we can expose students to the insurance industry and Auto-Owners,” she says.

“The expectation is that we hire students as interns who we will eventually hire as full-time associates upon graduation. If a student isn’t working toward graduation, then ultimately a full-time hire won’t work out and we can instead fill that internship with a student who is on track to graduate.”

Approaches to gap years differ among employers. For example, another URR professional commenting on this topic on the NACE Community indicted that her organization is accepting students to its summer 2021 internship program who are taking a semester or year off during the 2020-21 academic year as long as they are enrolled for fall 2021. In addition, all of its interns must have a graduation date of December 2021 or later.

Adds Wolverton: “Not all employers have the same expectations for their intern programs, so they should use their program to meet the needs of their company.”