Coronavirus Lockdown: MBA internships getting cancelled for many

Coronavirus Lockdown: MBA internships getting cancelled for many
Some recruiters have cancelled summer internship, while some have deferred Abhay Anand | Mar 31, 2020 - 3:53 p.m. IST
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NEW DELHI: In mid-March, several days before the 21-day lockdown was announced, Varun Pathak, a second-year MBA student at a leading management institute in Pune, Maharashtra, received a letter telling his summer internship was getting cancelled. He wasn’t alone.

“Some of my batch-mates received letters from recruiters informing us about the cancellation of the internship,” Pathak told Careers360. We are clueless about what will happen at the end of this lockdown.”

Along with much else in the world of school and higher education, the coronavirus pandemic has thrown the schedule and plans of business school students into total disarray. Finding it difficult to handle the logistics of conducting internships during the lockdown or anticipating a slump in the economy due to the spread of COVID-19, summer internships of dozens of b-school students are getting cancelled, deferred, or cut short from eight weeks to six. For some, they have gone online.

The internships typically begin at the beginning of the financial year (April 1) each year. These are especially crucial because interns who perform may be offered permanent positions. Such pre-placement offers, or PPOs, are much sought-after and allow the student to sit out campus placements.

Deferred, curtailed

The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has already directed technical institutions to put summer internships on ‘hold’ till further orders. The premier B-Schools in the country, the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), have also communicated to recruiters to defer the internship schedules to late or mid-April.

Students of IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Lucknow, IIM Indore and XLRI have either being asked to work from home or, in case of sectors that require interns to step out or travel, the joining dates have been deferred.

IIM Ahmedabad told Careers360 that many recruiters have deferred the starting date to mid-April. “None of the firms have cancelled summer internships as of now. For final placements too, none of the firms have cancelled their offers. However, some firms are considering deferring the joining date given the current scenario due to Covid-19,” it said.

Some recruiters have proposed shifting the summer internship to autumn to XLRI. While institutes like IIM Kozhikode and S P Jain School of Global Management are in touch with recruiters to cut down the duration of internship from eight weeks to five to six weeks.

Internship cancelled

The Government of India announced the 21-day lockdown on March 25. But even before that, some of the recruiters had cancelling summer internships sensing a slump in the economy.

The AICTE announcement also came three days after the lockdown period began. By that time many recruiters had either deferred their schedule or cancelled it.

“The institute has informed us that it is reaching out to the alumni network for alternative opportunities to students,” said Pathak of his Pune institute. Maharashtra has had one of the highest number of “positive” cases of coronavirus infection in the country.

However, institutes like Faculty of Management Studies (FMS) Delhi have also seen offers getting revoked for some students, while some have been given deferred joining dates. Some of students from the institute have taken to social media to share their concern, they have mentioned that the institute is also looking at other options to ensure internship for students whose offers have been cancelled.

Virtual mode

IIM Ahmedabad has requested recruiters to shift the internship to a virtual/ remote working mode and many recruiters have implemented it. They will be calling the students to work from office once the situation improves. Until then, the internship will be conducted virtually. “We had also requested them to start the internship on the same date as planned earlier or latest by mid-April. Many firms have agreed to start the internship on the same date as planned earlier or latest by mid-April,” said a response sent to Careers360.

Some companies like Microsoft have shifted to the virtual mode of work for employees as well as interns. “The interns batch in our company are all starting virtually. Right from their device set up to their projects etc., wrote Amrita Sapre, head of India device at Microsoft, on Twitter.

‘Everyone is facing this’

Nitish Jain, president, S P Jain School of Global Management said: “Every day is a new day in the midst of COVID 19. Everyone is facing the brunt of the situation with very few exceptions. Companies have seen their business models or revenues come to a screeching halt. Students have not been spared. They have had to complete their studies online. The technology used by most colleges is not modern and not engaging. Internships are a part of many MBA programs. However, naturally, this would be seriously impacted as company offices are closed and they are not equipped for work from home for interns.”

Moreover, their focus currently is survival, he added. A few companies may give interns projects to do from home as a means to keep them engaged. Jain said, “We are considering if eight weeks of internships can be adjusted to six weeks or if some projects can be done digitally. Also, we are thinking if we can delay the internship start date looking at the current scenario. This is a compromise but at a time like this, we must all improvise. It tests our resilience and creativity.”

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