‘Internships are the key to success’: COVID-19 plummeted college internships, CCU hopes numbers will recover

Grand Strand

CONWAY, S.C. (WBTW) — For millions of college students, internships were either canceled, postponed or turned virtual during the height of the pandemic.

Company review platform, Glassdoor, reports a 39% decrease in internship hires in April 2020 compared to April 2019. As COVID-19 restrictions ease, leaders at Coastal Carolina University hope internships will reach pre-pandemic levels.

“Internships, I believe, are the key to career success,” said Robert Bulsza, the director of internships at CCU.

Bulsza said although internships are not required for every program, they are highly encouraged. Nick Santaniello, a recent graduate of CCU, said some of his classmates were left scrambling when the pandemic hit.

“It was just one quick little email that just said, ‘Hey, we’re no longer doing this internship anymore,’ so they were trying fumbling to find an internship for that summer,” Santaniello said.

Luckily, one of his internships transitioned to virtual and he was able to secure a job with an accounting firm.

CCU data shows there were 1,964 students who completed internships during the 2019-20 academic school year, a drop from the 2,433 internships the year prior.

“Surprisingly there was a lot of adjustment in the marketplace and both students and employers were very creative,” Bulsza said.

He said students and employers seem to be ready to get fully involved.

“They’re now feeling a little more prepared a little more optimistic,” he said. “I expect those numbers to go back to pre-COVID.”

Glassdoor reports a 92% decrease in intern hires for the tourism and travel industry — an industry Myrtle Beach is known for.

Bulsza said that as of Wednesday, there were over 300 local businesses looking to hire interns this summer. He hopes internship participation for CCU students will exceed pre-pandemic levels. He estimates the university lost about 15% internship participation.

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