Looking for internships during the pandemic? The Career Center can help

By Myer Lee, Staff Reporter

Gianella Goan

In high school, freshman film and television major Brianna Ramirez completed a video and documentary program in Spain and said the opportunity to produce work within her field so early is what made her fall in love with filmmaking.

Ramirez, eager to find more opportunities, is already researching how to secure an internship through Columbia. Despite the pandemic, Columbia’s Career Center is still providing students with the help they need to gain experience in their field.

Laura Daniels, assistant director of internships and career advising, has hosted several “How to Prepare for your Future Internship” seminars since the start of the fall semester. These online sessions are meant to encourage students to keep applying for internships during the pandemic.

Jennifer Halperin, internship and career adviser, said there are many places that offer remote internships, including the magazine Modern Luxury, video production company Salvi Media Chicago and public relations company Exclusive PR.

“The ability to do an internship remotely and remain consistent in performance and communication with supervisors is also going to be a great thing to add to [students’] resumes in case future positions are remote,” Halperin said.

The best thing students can do before talking with advisers is activate their Handshake accounts and look through internships and job opportunities, Halperin said.

Handshake is the online career portal where students can apply to jobs and internships, register for job fairs and career events and schedule appointments with Career Center staff.

Halperin said looking at a student’s Handshake account gives advisers a starting point to research opportunities that interest students. It also helps advisers assist students in crafting a resume or cover letter based on students’ preferred jobs.

Although it may not sound ideal to students, Halperin said she encourages students to also consider unpaid internships.

“I have found that when you do an unpaid internship, you really set yourself up in a solid position to get a paid internship the next time,” Halperin said.

Halperin helped Nathan Branch, a senior public relations major, get his unpaid internship at the public relations company Exclusive PR. Branch, who has had the internship since April, said it was a financial sacrifice to do the unpaid internship, but it has been worth it.

“Gaining that real world experience definitely sets you apart and propels you forward in regards to being ahead of the curve compared to the other students in your major,” he said.

Branch said he applies what he learns in class directly to what he does at his internship including tasks like creating media lists, writing press releases and launching social media campaigns.

In a Sept. 22 seminar, Daniels said internships are a lot of work outside of class, but are beneficial when students put in the effort.

Students can also apply to receive course credit for their internship, receiving anywhere from zero to three credits depending on what the internship entails.

Daniels said three-credit internships require weekly assignments and projects, while one-credit and zero-credit internships require students to complete an intern experience survey and supervisor evaluation at the end of the semester to count as a grade. Three-credit and one-credit internships are factored into tuition costs, but zero-credit internships are free and do not add to one’s existing credits.

Halperin said students can also receive credit for paid internships and that they should see internships as investments toward their future.

“Even though these times are very unusual, I continue to urge students to do internships if they can because they have such a great payoff down the line,” Halperin said.

Here is a list of the Career Center’s upcoming events.