How to manage uncertain summer internship plans

A friend of mine recently shared this thought in a LinkedIn post:

The word “crisis” in Japanese is represented by two characters: 危機 (“Kiki”). The first character (危) means “dangerous” while the second (機) means “opportunity”.

I’ve been thinking about that a lot in relation to the pandemic we’re all experiencing. These circumstances are uncertain and scary, and are threatening some peoples’ lives and livelihoods. For those of us who have to pivot from our original hopes and plans, this crisis may also offer new opportunities.

Many of us are hearing from our previously-secured summer internship sites that our plans are delayed, canceled, or uncertain. Though it’s not what we’d hoped for, this could also be the chance to pivot and try something new. If your in-person summer plans are precarious, here are some steps you can take:

Pitch a remote project

Working remotely is a new and different experience for many of us, and likely for your internship site too. If it’s not possible to do your originally-planned internship, consider approaching your internship supervisor with an idea for a remote project. You might offer to coordinate social media marketing, do market research on similar organizations, create newsletter or blog content, analyze data, or generate sales leads. Instead of asking your supervisor to do all the work to convert your internship to a remote format, approaching with an idea makes it so much easier for your supervisor to say yes. If it’s not possible to do remote work at your original internship organization, consider approaching other organizations with similar project proposals.

Build your skills

Now is a great time to develop skills that can help you land a position and thrive in your future career. Think about possible dream jobs and take a look at some job descriptions to learn about the skills required for that position. If there are skills you’re missing, consider the ways that you can develop them this summer. You might take a project management course on LinkedIn Learning, try out computer animation on Khan Academy, or brush up on public speaking on Coursera (all free).

Grow your network

Talking to professionals in your field can help you understand the landscape of an industry, find potential mentors, and solicit important career advice. LinkedIn and UVM Connect are great places to start looking, and it’s easy to reach out with a quick ask. Make it easy for your contact to say yes by being specific and brief. You might send a message saying:

“Hi Mr. Rodriguez,
I hope you are doing well and staying healthy with everything currently happening in the world. I’m a current sophomore at UVM studying sociology, and I’m interested in careers related to food insecurity. I saw that you are also a UVM grad, and I was wondering if I could talk to you about your experience in the field. Would you have time to connect for a 20-minute phone call? I’m usually available Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Thank you,
Megan Trevino”

You can check out more advice about networking on the Career Center’s website.

Closing thoughts

For many people, summer 2020 won’t look as they had originally planned. That being said, remember that the Japanese word for crisis also contains the word opportunity. Think of this as an opportunity to build different skills, make new connections, and flex new muscles. This situation will pass, but in the meantime, try to make the most of it however you can.

If you want to talk through your individual situation, please reach out to the Career Center. We are still hosting appointments by phone or video call! You can self-schedule by logging in to Handshake, or shoot us an email at

Amanda Chase
Internship Coordinator & Career Counselor

Skip to toolbar