Exclusive Survey: Most MBA Summer Internships Impacted By Pandemic

Up until May 19, Kyle Ames knew exactly what his summer plans would be.

The first-year dual master’s in public health and MBA student at the University of California-Berkeley had an internship lined up at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland. Then he got the phone call that MBAs have been dreading this spring. “Last Tuesday I got a call out of nowhere that the CEO had nixed all internship programs,” Ames tells Poets&Quants. “So, that was a devastating blow, especially considering a month ago they were guaranteeing us a spot.”

Ames had secured his internship in January. By the end of March and the beginning of April, the spread of the coronavirus pandemic had shut down college campuses across the country. Companies like Facebook, Airbnb, Marriott, and others began freezing, rescinding offers, and canceling internships. Ames says around the same time, he got word Kaiser — the major network of healthcare providers headquartered in Oakland — would be paring their summer internship program from 400 interns to 35. But he was one of the fortunate ones. His summer plans and employment were still intact.

But then, on May 19, Ames received word that all summer interns would have their internships canceled. And now he is back on the job search from his home in Rapid City, South Dakota.


According to a survey May 4-25 of 462 registered Poets&Quants readers, more than a quarter — 28% — of MBAs seeking a summer internship have yet to accept an offer. Of those that have accepted a summer internship offer, more than half have had their internship changed in some way.

The majority reporting a change (26.63%) say their internships have been delayed. But more than 10% have had their summer internships canceled outright, and another 8.3% report having their offers rescinded.

For the vast majority of those still planning on completing a summer internship, it will be different than the traditional internship. Only about 5% of respondents to the survey report that their internships will be in-person this summer. Some 21% will have a blended model of interning virtual and in-person. And nearly three-quarters (73.9%) report their summer internships will be fully remote in a virtual format.

While only 8.3% of responding students said they’ve personally had their summer internships rescinded, a much larger amount — 63.60% — say they know someone personally at their business school that has had a summer internship offer rescinded.


One of those to have her summer internship greatly impacted is Annie Simon, who just finished her first year at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. Simon, who is originally from Washington, D.C., went to Georgetown to strengthen her quant skills while also exploring a potential career switch to focus more on the crossroads of business and impact for social good. Before starting her MBA at McDonough, Simon spent seven years as a professional freelance soprano singer and vocal teacher. Immediately before beginning her MBA at Georgetown, Simon worked at a synagogue focused on the fusion of arts and entertainment and religion.

At Georgetown, Simon immediately got involved in the school’s Net Impact chapter and worked as the co-vice president of the McDonough Social Impact Internship Fund. She was also introduced to the world of MBA recruiting. After some thorough research on her part that involved many conversations and coffee chats with Georgetown alums, Simon pursued and was offered an internship on the human capital team in Deloitte’s government and public sector department.

Simon accepted the offer at the beginning of 2020 before coronavirus began to escalate in the U.S. But as it did, she started to see friends at McDonough get their offers rescinded, or companies cancel internship programs in the middle of the interview process.

“I was watching everyone’s internship plans fall apart,” Simon puts it bluntly. Nevertheless, she still felt good about her internship continuing at Deloitte. The firm hadn’t communicated any changes and her contacts at the firm that had helped with her recruitment had been in touch reassuring her. “I didn’t think it was going to get changed but I see now it was wishful thinking,” Simon says.

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