HP Innovation Issue 18: Summer 2021 | Page 40

to fit virtual requirements . Although most interns were just grateful companies honored their hiring commitments , one happy surprise was how satisfied both sides were with the virtual experience . According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers , the offer rate for interns rose to about 80 % in 2021 , from 68 % in 2020 .
“ In some ways , interns are getting an opportunity they might not get in the future . They get to be at home and they can still do great work ,” says Tanisha Howell , HP ’ s Global University Program Coordinator , who is helping organize the virtual experience for around 235 remote interns in the United States this summer . Howell , a former HP intern , also did the same last summer for the 2020 class of interns and says the company benefited . “ We had a lot of managers saying , ‘ Oh , so-and-so is doing so well . I want to bring her back .’”
In an exit survey , 100 % of the 2020 HP interns responded they would recommend the internship , says Tania Rodríguez , Brand and Digital Coordinator for HP Careers , who thinks the high marks were in part because the virtual environment helped interns hone their communication skills .
“ A lot of them talked about how their soft skills were developed or how they were mentored at HP ,” she says .
WHEN KATLYNN STONE , 24 , interned at a major automaker in the summer of 2019 and returned as a remote intern in 2020 , she hoped to earn a permanent position . But because the 2020 program had to be shortened to six weeks instead of 12 , Stone ’ s project was “ disappointing ” and solitary . ( She worked 10 hours a day , but at her good-bye Zoom , she says many members of her team didn ’ t know who she was .)
Stone — a computer science major who graduated from Michigan Technological University in the fall of 2020 — scrambled to find a second internship to make up the cash she ’ d been counting on , and stumbled on ThermoAnalytics , a small software company that had virtual happy hours ( bring your own beer ) and Dungeons & Dragons sessions . Plus , the work was challenging . She chose a full-time job offer from them over one from the automaker , in part because she thought the former did a better job with virtual internships .
“ They actually paired me up with people and taught me things ,” she says .
Internships have long been an indispensable talent pipeline for tech employers , which is why so many put forth a herculean effort to modify their programs for remote work when the pandemic hit . In some cases , the work could remain the same ; in others , it had to change
Silver linings of remote Companies have found benefits in remote interns , from zero relocation costs to a bigger talent pool from which to draw . The virtual tech internship — developed as a short-term , only-in-2020 solution — may turn into a fixture , especially as remote work or hybrid models become the new normal . As a May 2021 study about online internships from the Center for Research on College-Workforce Transitions at the University of Wisconsin – Madison put it , “ the trend toward online internships became a torrent .”
“ I don ’ t think virtual is going away ,” says Kevin Collins , senior assistant director / career consultant for Carnegie Mellon University ’ s School of Computer Science . “ I think some companies are saying , ‘ Do we really need to have everybody at this location ?’ There are advantages to remote .”
Angelo Del Priore , a partner at HP Tech Ventures , the venture capital arm of HP , agrees . Through Paragon One , a startup that handles the vetting of students for externships ( as well as their onboarding , training , and evaluation ), HP Tech Ventures so far has hosted two extern cohorts in 2021 , each with about 50 students who researched companies in the virtual reality space ( collectively they found 600 ). The students , he says , were more geographically diverse than in-person arrangements would have allowed .