Now that the world is getting accustomed to remote work and study routines and new employment practices, summer internships might look very different this year too.

As a university applicant or current student, you might be wondering if you will have the opportunity to get some valuable work experience in the upcoming months. This is a valid concern – companies in some countries such as the US and the UK have cancelled or postponed their internship programmes.

At the same time, many global organisations are committed to safely providing an enriching learning experience for young professionals during the Covid-19 protective measures.

Can internships go virtual?

Social networking platform Facebook is one of the companies that will kick off a fully virtual internship programme in summer 2020. This is no surprise, as the company has extended home office working for its employees until the end of 2020.

♦ Read: 6 Tips to Protect Your Mental Health ♦ 

We are yet to find out how the programme will be structured and whether it will be conducted as successfully as prior face-to-face initiatives. Still, this is an important opportunity for graduates who are passionate about the tech industry. A blog post from the company reads:

Despite the challenges of running this programme remotely, keeping our summer internship is important both for the students, for whom this is a pivotal learning experience, and for our company. Our internship programme is a key part of our recruiting strategy.

According to Business Insider, Google has also announced that their internship programme will shift to an online format. So, interning remotely is definitely possible this summer and it might just turn out to be a unique experience.

Of course, organisations will need to provide excellent mentorship during their virtual internship programmes. Good communication between you and your manager is essential to make this a productive experience, especially if you are working remotely from each other.

Face-to-face summer internships

Although securing a work placement might be more challenging than usual, opportunities abound for those who know how to look for them.

If you are interested in finance or consulting, you should note that many firms have put back the starting dates of their programmes to accommodate graduates. In the US, big employers including Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, and JPMorgan Chase are planning to welcome new interns in July instead of June.

Depending on the industry, face-to-face interaction can be an essential part of the job and the learning process. “Traditional Wall Street internships are immersive affairs in which interns learn technical skills, forge bonds with peers, get hands-on experience and try to make a mark on senior executives who may some day hire them,” notes editor Laura Noonan for the Financial Times.

So, you can still explore your options for the summer, even if you are set on a traditional office internship. Don’t forget to check virtual career fairs as soon as possible to make new contacts and get a feel for the job market.

To make sure a school is right for you, you can now use online tools to get to know the campus culture.
"To make sure a school is right for you, you can now use online tools to get to know the campus culture."

Read: Virtual Campus Tours? Yes, Please

What if you end up without an internship?

You can still make the most of your summer after graduation even without an internship placement. As journalist Scottie Andrew wrote for CNN, companies will be well aware that their future recruits might have had difficulties finding an internship and could have a gap in their CV/resume.

In that case, do your best to fill in the gap with other meaningful activities and projects. For example, you could explore volunteer projects, create your own blog, or start learning a new language.

Ms Andrew also recommends reaching out to fellow alumni or other professionals from your network. “Find people whose work you admire. Tell them what you're interested in, ask about opportunities they may have and offer your help if they need it.

This is the time to keep an open mind, explore an unfamiliar industry or role, and show that you can be adaptive.