Exclusive Survey: Most MBA Summer Internships Impacted By Pandemic

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Those hopeful expectations were dashed earlier this month when Deloitte officially canceled its traditional eight-week summer internship program and morphed it into a two-week “Deloitte Virtual Experience.” It was a “bummer” but not a worst-case scenario as Deloitte also said it would offer its interns full-time positions at the end of the summer. The firm also has made the two-week pseudo-internship voluntary but will pay those interns that decide to complete it.

“They encouraged us to do the virtual experience but it’s not mandatory to still get the position post-graduation or the payment and I think they did that so people that needed to find employment for financial reasons could still do that,” Simon says, calling the offer “incredibly generous.”

“It’s the best of a bummer outcome,” she adds. The virtual experience will run at the end of July.

One issue with only being able to do a two-week virtual experience is Simon won’t get to test-drive Deloitte or consulting in general. At the beginning of her time at McDonough, Simon says she didn’t even consider consulting. But she says if Deloitte sticks to its word and does come through with a full-time offer at the end of the summer, she’s likely to sign based on the “data points” she’s gathered through the internship process. “I get a real sense that they care about their employees and want to nurture those relationships and their talent,” Simon says.


In the meantime, Simon will be volunteering for a burgeoning nation-wide nonprofit called Off Their Plate, which describes itself as a “grassroots movement” to help provide nutritious meals to hospital teams and help restaurants that have been impacted by the coronavirus get up and running again.

Simon isn’t the only MBA having to get creative with their summer plans because of unlucky internship developments. Joshua Yang, who is earning his MBA from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, is still on the internship hunt. “I feel like on the cusp of having either a really good job or no job,” Yang, who is primarily looking for a position in venture capital, says. Yang began his internship search in November of last year and says he’s been submitting a “steady stream of applications” that has increased in frequency over the past few months. “I didn’t anticipate it being this difficult,” Yang says of landing an internship.

Yang knows there are some barriers to him landing a position in the coveted industry. Some of those — like his non-traditional background and lack of experience in consulting or investing — existed before the coronavirus outbreak, he says. But other barriers, Yang believes, are a new phenomenon because of the pandemic. Before, the internship was seen more as a teaching opportunity and for those trying to break into a role or industry. Now, however, companies need interns that have at least some relevant experience and can contribute from the get-go.

“They wanted to help people break in and learn the skill necessary to be successful in the future in venture capital. But now when I do the interviews, it’s sort of, do you actually have the domain knowledge and skillset to accomplish the goals of this position,” Yang says. “People that are hiring for internships are trying to be more risk-averse and only hiring if they know for sure they’ll get the value from that position.”

Like Simon, Yang has a fallback in the case nothing works out this summer. “The worst case is I continue working full-time this summer at my startup or going to do a clinical rotation at medical school. I don’t really want to do that though,” Yang says.


To be sure, it’s not too late to nail down an internship for the summer. First-year Rice University Jones Graduate School of Management MBA Kristina Mentakis locked in an internship about two weeks ago. Another wannabe industry-hopper, Mentakis spent a few years as a senior human resources associate at an Austin, Texas-based tech startup. But her passion lies in healthcare and business. So when Mentakis started “gently” looking for internships last fall, she targeted Houston’s major hospitals like Houston Methodist and the Memorial Hermann Health Systems. A Northern California native, she also looked at Kaiser Permanente.

When the spring came around and Mentakis began looking more seriously at summer programs, many were “paused indefinitely or canceled permanently,” she says. Eventually, Mentakis found a position as a social media and marketing intern at Proxima Clinical Research in Houston, thanks to a connection to the company from a second-year MBA at Rice.

While it wasn’t her first choice for an internship or path, Mentakis feels fortunate to have fallen into the opportunity. “There are definitely more students than normal unable to find internships,” she says of the full-time MBA program at Rice.

But the administration and staff at Rice are doing what they can to help, Mentakis says. “Rice really dug-in to helping people get internships,” she says, noting the staff holds weekly meetings on Fridays aimed at helping job-seeking students. The alumni network has also been clutch, Mentakis says.

“Our alums will pick up the phone,” Mentakis says. “It has been so inspiring to see. As hard as this time is, seeing the Rice community come together in more interest in giving than what they can receive has been a mind-blowing experience.”


Many schools have gone to their alumni asking for help. According to Yang, Stanford’s GSB has emphasized two main initiatives in response to COVID-19’s impact on jobs. One of those calling on alumni to create more than 150 internships. Another is creating a new mentorship program called “You’ll Never Walk Alone” that matches alumni with students to help guide longer-term life and professional goals.

Stanford GSB Dean Jon Levin sent an email directly to Stanford GSB alums on April 20th asking alums to create 150 summer internships and full-time positions for current GSB students. “A few months ago, Stanford GSB students were poised to graduate into one of the strongest job markets in history,” Levin wrote in his email. “Today, they are facing an uncertain employment landscape and a global economy reeling from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.” After asking alumni to create the 150 jobs, Levin wrote, “We have a special need for summer internship opportunities, because these are especially scarce, and the timing is urgent.”

By May 1, some 130 opportunities had already been created, according to an email sent to the GSB student body from Jamie Schein, the assistant dean and director of the Career Management Center at the Stanford GSB. And by May 10, the 150 mark had been surpassed according to another email from Levin to the GSB community. “Three weeks ago, I reached out to the broad alumni community, asking for their help to create internship and job opportunities for our current students, who face a market upended by the pandemic,” Levin wrote. “In consultation with the Career Management Center, we set a goal to create 150 opportunities. The response has been remarkable. Hundreds of alumni have contacted the CMC, and we passed the 150 goal earlier this week, with offers continuing to flow in.”

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