HP Innovation Issue 18: Summer 2021 | Page 43

The virtual tech internship may turn into a fixture , especially as remote work or hybrid models become the new normal .
The flexibility in working hours that some managers allowed also suited a number of interns well . Yuliya Litviakova , 32 , who interned in person for HP in Palo Alto in 2019 , worked in 2020 from her family ’ s home in Kyrgyzstan , 13 time zones ahead . Litviakova wouldn ’ t have been able to do the internship if it were in person , as Kyrgyzstan closed its borders shortly after she arrived home from completing her graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania ’ s Wharton School last spring . Another benefit : Thanks to the time difference , she could get a lot done before meetings began . ( Litviakova moved to Palo Alto as a full-time employee this year .)
Other interns impressed their managers with how well they were able to handle remote work , even under less-than-ideal conditions and challenging home environments . Karen Hannon , senior engineering manager at Mimecast , the email and data security company , supervised two interns from Year Up , a nonprofit job training program for underprivileged students . They didn ’ t have dedicated home office space and had many interruptions from family during the workday .
“ They did an amazing job under the circumstances ,” she says .
Hiring Gen Z The whole virtual experience — from recruiting to onboarding to the culture of the online office — presents a new opportunity for companies to find , attract , and convert Generation Z to hires . At Penn State , which has 20 campuses , more employers from different regions have come to virtual career fairs since the start of the pandemic , says Kimberly Fox , the school ’ s associate director of engineering career resources and employer relations .
“ Before , employers might not have traveled to all those campuses ,” Fox says . “ Now they don ’ t have to travel to any campus .” Meanwhile , at Spelman College , a historically Black college , the fall 2020 career fair reached its highest participation rate to date , with 400 employers , thanks to both the Black Lives Matter movement and the pandemic .
Because recruiters can reach so many more students , some internships are becoming more competitive . ( Howell says HP received more applications for internships in 2021 , though the number of internships available was roughly the same . A tiny fraction will be in person ; most will be remote .) On the flip side , Fox says , each student also has more opportunities than he or she might have had before .
Supporting DEI efforts Companies must now decide whether to continue completely remote or hybrid internships , such as Amazon , which this year is offering the option to work virtually or
The virtual tech internship may turn into a fixture , especially as remote work or hybrid models become the new normal .
hybrid . One key factor may be how remote internships would enable tech companies to increase diversity in their ranks , says Jennifer Abman Scott , vice president of strategic partnerships at the Society of Women Engineers . “ My hope is that the geography is opening up ,” Scott says , “ and more candidates are rural , people of color , and / or female .”
Lakeisha Mathews , the director of the Career & Internship Center at the University of Baltimore , says she hopes virtual internships are here to stay because the flexibility these experiences allow makes them more accessible for underrepresented students , who are more likely to work and have families , and are less likely to complete internships because of their personal obligations . ( And when they graduate , they often face barriers to employment because they haven ’ t gained relevant work experience .)
A March 2021 survey by the publication Inside Higher Ed found that women are more likely than men to be somewhat or extremely interested in a virtual internship ( 43 % versus 34 %), and people of color have a lot more interest than their White peers ( 60 % of Asian students , 47 % of Black students , and 45 % of Latinx students , versus 33 % of White students ).
“ Virtual work can help [ these students ] manage their priorities ,” Mathews says , while helping companies achieve theirs .