Company’s Senior Vice President and Chief Talent Officer Also Shares Advice on Improving Chances to Land a Job Post-Graduation
Traditionally, internships have been one of the tried-and-true methods of preparing to transition from student to worker. And with good reason. Internships enable students to translate classroom learnings to the workplace, putting their education in action and experiencing what it’s like to work in their field of choice, often with the added bonus of job shadowing or mentorships.
Ria Dalal, Marketing & Consumer Insights Intern
With COVID-19 sweeping the nation – and the vast majority of businesses and educational institutions closing their doors – many students saw their summer internships disappear. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers “Coronavirus Quick Poll,” nearly 66 percent of internship and co-op offers had been rescinded as of May 1, stripping rising college seniors of the critical professional work experience they’d been counting on to round out their resumes and help them make valuable connections. With many universities shifting to virtual learning for the fall semester, in-person career information sessions and job fairs will also be put on-hold.
In response to the pandemic, Lincoln Financial Group pivoted to 100 percent virtual internship and new graduate development programs for summer 2020. A total of 138 individuals (88 students and 50 recent graduates) from 60 colleges and universities participated in the intensive programs, which focused on experiential learning, leadership exposure, and professional acumen. In fact, Lincoln’s program was just named among the Top 100 Best Internship Programs in the U.S. by WayUp, the go-to platform used by millions of early-career professionals to get hired.
For University of Pennsylvania student Shirly Liu, who completed a summer internship in Human Resources at Lincoln, the experience not only provided developmental opportunities and interactions with senior leadership, it allowed her to gain invaluable knowledge of how to work effectively in a virtual environment – learnings she will apply throughout the remainder of her education – and beyond.
“As universities are returning to a hybrid setting, I envision taking what I have learned from my internship and applying it to classes,” says Liu. “Working on and coordinately group projects remotely, knowing how to communicate effectively in a virtual environment and being able to time manage well are all transferrable skills.”
Actuarial Intern, Haley Pollock (Bryant University) will be joining Lincoln as an Actuarial Development Program (ADP) participant next June. In addition to working remotely and learning how to leverage time management skills, she benefitted from the ready availability of senior leadership and their willingness to answer questions and provide guidance to the interns.
“As an intern, it can be intimidating asking for someone’s time to answer your questions and explain the ‘why’ behind different processes,” says Pollock. “However, I learned that everyone at Lincoln truly wants you to excel and is more than happy to schedule time to talk with you, regardless if you are an intern or full-time employee.”
Working with the Consumer Insights Team, Marketing & Consumer Insights Intern Ria Dalal (Indiana University Bloomington) learned how to present in a remote environment, a skill which she looks forward to implementing in the future. Building relationships and effectively working together in a remote environment were two of her major takeaways of the summer.
“Initially, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to build relationships being remote, but Lincoln did a fantastic job of integrating us in this remote environment and I was able to connect with other interns and professional throughout the summer,” says Dalal.
Through the Executive Leadership Speaker Series, Dalal also learned how to differentiate herself in the workplace as a young professional and how to be an advocate for herself in future jobs.
Whether you completed a virtual internship or not, Jen Warne, Lincoln Financial’s senior vice president and chief talent officer, says there are still many opportunities for students to gain virtual work experience that can lead to job offers. She recommends a few actions students can take over the coming months to enhance their chances of landing a job post-graduation:
- Raise That GPA: With less internship experience on your resume, the focus will be on educational performance. Be all-in when taking virtual courses!
- Get Involved: Even universities who are moving to a virtual format will continue to offer clubs and other activities, so take advantage of opportunities to get involved.
- Volunteer: While volunteer work makes you feel great, it also helps you gain new skills and experiences that will enhance your value as a potential employee.
- Connect with Career Services: Take the initiative to learn about your school’s career services office and take full advantages of what they have to offer.
- Build Your Network: Think of all the professionals you know in your community, through previous jobs, even your parents and other relatives. Let them know you are looking for entry-level internship or full-time job opportunities.
- Explore Diverse Careers: Don’t limit your career options to your major. Ask members of your network to connect you with professionals who work in career areas you’d like to explore.
- Master Your Pitch: Set up entry-level job alerts with your target companies and then set out to master your elevator pitch. When you get the opportunity to compete for a job, this will help you stand out.
“Above all else, strive to remain optimistic,” said Warne. “Employers remain as committed as they can be in the current economic environment to feeding their talent pipeline with strong early career talent. It’s up to you to develop the skills and connections that will enable you to find those opportunities and effectively sell yourself to potential employers.”