While most employers shifted their internship programs to virtual during the COVID-19 pandemic, many see the utility of this format and plan to make virtual assignments at least part of their internship programs in the future, according to final results of NACE’s August 2021 quick poll on internships and fall 2021 recruiting.
This summer, half of employers offered a hybrid internship program, and 32% were exclusively virtual. Half of respondents also indicated that it is likely or extremely likely that virtual or hybrid internships will become a permanent feature of their internship programs, with another 21% unsure at this point.
Why are employers willing to make this shift? Because, in large part, they found their internship programs to be effective at accomplishing several critical objectives, including:
- Converting interns to full-time employees (68% said their internship program was very or extremely effective);
- Branding the organization (79% said it was very or extremely effective); and
- Completing meaningful work for the organization (90% said it was very or extremely effective).
Employers are realizing the utility of virtual offerings in other areas, too. For example, for fall 2021, employers plan to host their own virtual recruiting events, such as Zoom sessions, virtual tours, and virtual career fairs, with 67% of respondents indicating they are planning to increase these types of events as compared to pre-pandemic. Furthermore, 83% of quick poll participants indicated an increase in virtual recruiting as one of the biggest changes they made to their overall recruiting strategy during the pandemic.
This may be necessary with the delta variant surging in areas of the country. At this point, just one-quarter of responding employers said they had travel restrictions in effect for the fall. However, another 40% indicated that any travel restrictions for fall have yet to be determined.
NACE polled employers and career services professionals on their plans for fall 2021 in light of the pandemic and greater opportunity to return to in-person interactions. The polls address plans for serving, engaging with, and recruiting college students for jobs and internships, but also capture what happened with employer internship programs held in summer 2021. The polls ran from July 27 through August 20, 2021; final results are available on NACEWeb.