Firms skeptical of B-school summer internship during the pandemic

The planet wrapped in pretty flowers and delicious fruits is a welcome sight in April. April is also the month first-year students of two-year Management programs at B-schools engage in summer internships. However,2021 has seen disappointments on the internship front.

Some current summer internship offers to stand revoked, while a few have got deferrals at most B-schools across the country. Deferrals might last five to eight weeks, according to sources.

A few lucky graduates have received offers for virtual internships. Many students from premier schools like IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Lucknow, IIM Kozhikode, IIM Indore, FMS Delhi, and XLRI face deferrals.

A few organizations have opted to work remotely on internships owing to the coronavirus spread. Choosing to work remotely is a welcome move, as students’ learning continues uninterrupted. However, companies that canceled internships have put students in a dilemma, as part of their course remains incomplete. 

How do the top schools handle the crisis?

Amit Karna, chairperson- placements at IIM Ahmedabad, said several recruiters had modified their internship patterns to suit working virtually with the interns.Many recruiters have deferred commencing internships owing to the Covid-19 outbreak. IIM-A is working with the companies to troubleshoot the situation. They are looking at virtual internships or remote working to tide over this crisis. IIM-A students have been fortunate as none of the companies have revoked their internship offers.

The placement chair at IIM Lucknow regretted the cancellations. Three firms, involving nine students, have rescinded their internship offers. He said that many companies had postponed the joining date to assess the situation better.The school has sought help from its alumni and legacy recruiters for alternative opportunities for the affected students.

Himanshu Rai, Director, IIM Indore, felt that the location of the companies offering internships could be the reason for companies across sectors deferring their summer internship offers. 

The placement chair, Shovan, IIM Kozhikode, said that firms had reduced the internship period to five weeks or less, from eight weeks. Fortunately, the final placement appointments have not seen any adverse impact. Most companies have put off joining dates of interns, and some of the firms have allowed interns to work from home.

Over two hundred students of the FMS Delhi batch have accepted deferred placements, with a few joining the remote working model. A few organizations have told their interns to work remotely through the entire internship period. Other companies have asked interns to work remotely during the initial days until they figure a way of working physically at the location. 

The Chairperson XLRI Placement said that they were considering the postponement of the internship by a month or two. A few recruiters came up with a radical solution. They had placed options of autumn internships in place of summer internships. Students have missed working on international projects considering the COVID-19 travel restrictions.

What is the status of internships outside India?

The news from across the globe on internships is not encouraging either. Some companies have called off the original internship offers, and others have clipped the internship term by two to three weeks. Summer internships of seven or eight weeks now stand at five weeks.

Are all sectors equally impacted?

Most sectors have had an equally adverse reaction to Summer internships at B-schools. Most FMCG and Consulting firms have sought deferrals for internships. The job profiles in these sectors mandate considerable on-field research and travel. Besides FMCG and Consulting, Finance, Consulting, Marketing, General Management, and Tech firms have opted to defer internship offers.

Unlike that for summer internships, B-schools believe that once the lockdown is relaxed, there could be more clarity on the impact on final placement appointments, which have not seen much impact.

Why are most firms on the backfoot?

The insecurity of the second wave of the coronavirus has made firms defer or rescind summer internship offers. Organizations across sectors and varying in size have communicated with the placement cells of Business schools about the status their internships offer. While some companies said that the offers are on hold, other companies said they would not pay stipends to the interns.
An IIM student said a company had reneged his internship offer just three days before his joining date. The last-minute annulment voided him the time to approach other companies. An internship is a crucial step for students who have taken large education loans to step up to the second year.

Students are now lapping up any opportunity at earning a few bucks. A student had quipped on social media how hiring IIM grads without paying them had become a joke. However, it also hurts students who had waited for the opportunity to earn during this period.

Do B-schools see the light at the end of the tunnel?

Partial or total lockdowns have unsettled the internships of students. Furthermore, the uncertainty of the lockdown that could see extensions has made recruiters shy away from extending internships. However, recruiters are trying to work with B-schools around the present crisis. They are working on mutually viable options like the remote working of interns and deferrals.

Business school placement cells see a ray of hope in the hope of unimpacted final placements.

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