Internships in the Covid Era (Event Recap)

This post was written by Contributing Author Ossama Elhadary, Associate Professor in the Computer Systems Technology department of the New York City College of Technology (Citytech).

Internships are critical in preparing students for careers in many fields and are also a critical part of active learning. With the Covid 19 pandemic though, internships have changed and to a certain extent students’ perceptions of internships have also changed. Many students are reluctant to search for internships because they assume beforehand that they either do not exist during this pandemic era or are simply too difficult to find. In reality though, there are a lot of opportunities that exist today that did not exist in the pre-pandemic era. Geography and time zone differences are almost irrelevant, and many of our New York students are now encouraged to search for internships outside the region and even outside the country. 

Professor Ossama Elhadary was the facilitator and he discussed the internship process at the Computer Systems Technology department at CityTech. He also demonstrated the trends observed regarding student enrollment in internships from 2016 to 2021. The internship enrollment numbers followed the overall program enrollment figures (with a 3 years lag) and were trending up. The summer 2020 and fall 2020 numbers though were substantially lower than the corresponding 2019 numbers and the drop was clearly because of Covid. The internship enrollment numbers though for spring 2021 showed that recovery was taking place and enrollment was only slightly lower than spring 2020.  

The panel discussed some of the opportunities observed: 

  • Current internship (CST4900) enrollment is approaching pre-Covid 19 level 
  • Companies are still looking for interns 
  • More interns are finding internships outside NYC 
  • Remote internships are now accepted  
  • It is easier for working students to find internships that fit their schedules 

And some of the challenges:  

  • Competing with non-NY students for internship opportunities within NYC 
  • Not all students thrive in remote environments 
  • Building relationships within the industry is more difficult 
  • Less interaction with others and lower potential for learning from the internship experience 

Ms. Carla Araile is a former Citytech graduate and is now a Vice President at Goldman Sachs in Technology Risk Engineering and was the second speaker. Ms. Araile discussed the internship process at Goldman Sachs and reminded the advised the audience that it was through her internship at Goldman Sachs that she got her first full-time position there. The panel emphasized that almost all large companies offer internships and that students need to search for such opportunities and apply for them. 

The third speaker, Mr. Angel Rodriguez is a Direct Account Technology Strategist at Microsoft and is also an adjunct professor at the Computer Systems Technology department at CityTech.  Mr. Rodriguez placed students in the past in full-time positions and internships in various companies and he explained that employers are looking for students with an initiative who have worked on relevant projects and that’s why internships are important. Mr. Rodriguez advised students to work with their professors on projects that they can showcase to potential employers in the future.  

Ossama Elhadary is an associate professor in the Computer Systems Technology department of the New York City College of Technology (Citytech) where he also serves as the department internship coordinator. Professor Elhadary holds a PhD in financial Economics from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, and a Doctorate in Business Administration (in IT Management) from the Maastricht School of Management in the Netherlands.  

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