Despite the slowdown that many saw in their day-to-day lives during quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic, one thing that remains constant is the search for jobs and internships among Yale students.

In the face of a process that can be daunting at times, students — both enrolled and unenrolled — are making changes to internship applications, interviews, and responsibilities in stride. Altered timelines, diminished access to information, and uncertain standards for remote and virtual work opportunities have proved challenging for students to cope with. However, as the norm trends toward remote internships, students have seen employers improve their methodology and hiring processes for more fulfilling experiences.

Conrad French ’23, who took the fall semester as an opportunity to work as a field organizer for Democratic Party candidates in North Carolina, is currently unenrolled and tentatively plans to return to campus for the spring of 2021. However, the possibility of extending his leave of absence through next semester requires planning for a potential spring internship that will likely be remote due to the pandemic.

“I’m a prospective EP&E and MCDB double major, but my search thus far for spring and summer internships has primarily been in the political and policy realm,” French said. “I’m hoping to have the opportunity to work in person, at least for any internships this summer, though I’m certainly approaching my application process with the assumption that any or all potential internships could very well be conducted remotely.”

Isabelle Lee ’22 is currently on a leave of absence and doing two internships, one regarding refugee policies with the International Rescue Committee in Baltimore and the other in data analytics at Blueprint Health, a Chicago-based startup.

In spite of the downsides of changes in virtual job recruitment, Lee said that her experience has been largely positive due to the flexibility of remote internships and employer-side improvements.

“On the more positive side, companies got better at recruiting digitally, and going through interviewing processes was made easier by being able to set up quick virtual chats, rather than having to find a time in person,” Lee said. “Also, the cool thing with remote work is that not only can I still be doing internships from New Haven for the year, but it also made it possible for me to be working two jobs that are in two completely different states.”

French is optimistic about the prospect of future remote work, expressing the sentiment that he was contributing tangibly to important campaign work even though he was working remotely. He cited accessibility as being positive to come out of remote internships. 

“Now that remote academic and professional interactions have become a central part of our lives, I think the general expectations of remote work have become clearer and the work itself more streamlined,” French added. “If work opportunities or their respective application processes continue to be remote, increased access is certainly a major upside, as internships or other opportunities can be undertaken from anywhere, with a quality of experience that continues to improve.”

Students who have searched for internships in the past compared the current internship application process with the process in previous years.

For French, much of the internship search has remained largely unchanged due to the pandemic as a majority of his initial submissions of applications, interviews, and networking communications have always been remote. Despite these similarities, COVID-19 has affected the timing and expectations of the application processes, according to French.

“Uncertainty has been the sole constant of the past eight months, and that certainly translated into uncertainty in the application process for campaign opportunities over the summer,” French said of his untraditional, remote campaign experience. “I think both the timelines of application processes and the content of the work itself will likely continue to be in flux going forward, especially as we eventually transition back into in-person work.”

Nathaniel Hickman-Chow ’23 said networking and internship searching during the pandemic has been easier than last year. Hickman-Chow, who is enrolled and taking classes from home, is applying for summer internships in finance and film to branch out before committing to one career path. He says Yale Symplicity has been his go-to for internship hunts, as it is easily navigable and tailored to one’s individual interests for a hassle-free internship search. In addition, Hickman-Chow noted that having virtual interviews has made the process less stressful for him.

That said, an entirely online search process might not prove to be representative of job searching in the future.

“The only negative thing that I would say about an online internship world is that it is a bit informal,” Hickman-Chow shared. He cited having used HireVue, a video interview software, and platform, for job interviews. “For example, HireVue is quite an odd experience, but I understand why companies use it to get to know a candidate better without having to spend the resources that they usually would have in years prior.”

Between Yale Career Link, Yale Symplicity, and LinkedIn, there are plenty of ways for students to find career opportunities even in the midst of a pandemic that has changed so much about the way people conduct business.

Lee noted that networking has become easier in a virtual world. 

“People have been more willing to engage and set up phone calls via LinkedIn or other social networks than before because I think people in the workforce, especially Yale alumni, have been really sympathetic to the difficult situation that students searching for jobs are in right now,” Lee said.

Students have found that the best thing they can do right now exposes themselves to new and diverse experiences, with Hickman-Chow emphasizing that people should not stress about finding the perfect internship. Instead, he expressed being able to “put yourself out there and apply, apply, apply” as a valuable asset over the coming months.

The Office of Career Strategy will host a Job and Internship Strategies Workshop virtually on Thursday, Nov. 12, from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. Registration is available on Yale Career Link.