WTF To Do If Your Summer Internship Was Canceled

In Kristen Bell’s immortal words: “this is the bad place.” Yeah, we all know about the total sh*t storm happening outside of our homes while we are practicing appropriate and responsible social distancing. 

Because of the *ahem* unpredictability of the situation surrounding COVID-19, we all have a lot of questions, like how long will our government continue to ground the entire country? Widespread uncertainty as to how long this crisis will continue is sending everyone into a little bit of a downward spiral that involves eating all of our quarantine snacks, texting our exes, and panicking about summer plans.

Due to coronavirus, not only have college students been sent packing and back home for the semester, but many of us are getting notified that summer internships may be canceled, moving to a remote structure, or transitioning to an unpaid internship. And, as a result, students everywhere are losing their sh*t about how they won’t be able to take full advantage of a Rent the Runway membership and ability to post cute pics on rooftops all summer really incredible learning experience. 

In the interest of public service, and because I love of all of my fans so much and don’t want anyone to freak out, I have done a little bit of research to help you all feel a little better about your summer plans. 

If You Haven’t Heard Anything…

The only thing worse than getting ghosted by a frat douche during quarantine (direct attack on myself) is getting ghosted by the company you have been waiting to hear back from about your application status. I know I may seem really badass and confrontational in my articles (let me have this), but, disclaimer: I’m not. So, I totally get not wanting to seem annoying or aggressive by emailing someone a thousand times to check if your internship is still happening. 

The good news is, you only need to send one or two emails, and you definitely should not be bombarding your potential future employer with 1,000 questions. We are all in the same boat, and odds are, that interns are not a high priority for them at the moment, and they also have no idea what the f*ck is going on. 

If they sent out a blanket email to all of the intern applicants telling them that they are working on a solution and they will be in touch, it sucks, but you kind of need to hang in there. However, if you’ve been getting radio silence for the last few weeks, sending one email is helpful and shows you are still interested and willing to take initiative. 

An example email might look something like this.

Dear (hiring manager), 

I hope all is well and that you and your family are staying safe, given the circumstances. 

My name is _____ _____ and I applied for the _____ internship this summer. While I am excited about the potential of joining your team, I am aware that circumstances may have changed due to the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19. 

I am sure that you have been very busy working to adjust to the new circumstances and understand that internships are not a high priority at the moment. However, I was wondering if there were any updates regarding plans for summer internships that I may have missed or can expect to hear about in the future. 

I am really looking forward to the possibility of working with you in whatever capacity is possible this summer and can’t wait to hear from you soon. 




Phone Number 

If you are sending this email, you better be sure you didn’t miss any updates they sent you, or you will look like an idiot. Oftentimes large companies provide you with an application number, it never hurts to include this information in the email.  

If You Got Rejected…

That sucks, and I’m really sorry. The good news is unless you have been flat-out told that you, personally, were not hired, you can assume that it has nothing to do with your qualifications and the situation at hand is to blame. (Is that a healthy coping mechanism?)  

The first thing you should do, even if the company is not accepting interns this summer, is send a thank you note to whoever interviewed you, or the contact you have at the company. This is just basic professionalism and, in any situation, can help you in the future should you choose to apply for an internship or job there in the future. 

If Your Internship Straight-Up Got Canceled…

It’s thank-you note season, bitches! I know it sucks, but you need to be gracious for the opportunity. No matter how many times you roll your eyes while writing the email, the person who receives it will probably really appreciate it  and be like, “wow, what a mature, polite college student. I’ll definitely consider them in the future!”  

Obvi I am not an employer, I am a 21-year-old college student whose professional experience is just one rung above Alexis Rose’s, but my parents told me to always send a thank you note, so I’m passing that along. 

If You’re Thinking: “Okay, That’s Great Advice But I Really F*cking Need Something To Do This Summer”…

Take a deep breath, you have nowhere else to go, and I’m getting there!

So, the thing with internships is that you’re not just supposed to be getting coffee or doing random busywork. Internships are there for us to learn, grow in our fields, and make connections. Whether you’re getting paid, getting class credit, or are interning at your mom’s company for neither of those things, internships are a facility for mentorship. They are intended to help you solidify your future plans. Internships can also serve as a significant form of income for some students. And, unfortch, they are super important for things like getting into graduate schools or getting entry-level jobs. 

The first thing I will say is don’t totally lose your sh*t just yet. Yeah, if your dream internship gets canceled, that really sucks and I’m sorry you’re really going through it right now. I have searched far and wide for tips and advice to find ways to make up for not having an internship this summer.  

Learn Something 

If internships are ruled out entirely for whatever reason, summer classes are a great option. A lot of schools have summer programs, allowing you to get some type of certification in a field that you may be interested in. It’s like, we’re all going to want to party a ton when we eventually get back to campus, why not knock out some of the harder classes you were going to take next semester anyway? 

If you can’t find an online class to take this summer or don’t want to fork over a ton of money for distance learning, many websites offer cheap or free certification programs for specific skills. Last summer, I was super bored and got certified in Content Marketing through HubSpot. Adobe Creative Suite, Masterclass, and other websites can give you training on things like writing, graphic design, and video making. Putting something like this on your resume or LinkedIn is a perfect way to show that even despite a crisis, you’re committed to learning and ~bettering yourself~. 

Look For Companies With Expanded Remote Internship Programs  

While remote internships may have initially not been your first choice, especially if you and your friends had big plans of living together in a fun city, it’s not time to be picky anymore. If you ruled out remote internships right off the bat, I highly suggest reconsidering that decision. 

Companies with the capability to have interns work remotely also may be expanding their remote internship programs this summer. Cloudflare, a tech company that focuses on internet security and infrastructure, has pledged to double its internship program this summer. Truly, they are out here doing the lord’s work.  

The Democratic National Committee is another organization that has pledged to move forward with internships, whether they are in person or remote. Like Cloudflare, the DNC hires students with a wide variety of backgrounds to multiple positions. 

You May Need To Lower Your Standards

Okay, I shouldn’t need to say this, but this applies to jobs, not the frat boy you’ve been Snapchatting. However, if you initially ruled out an internship because it was too “low level” or unpaid, chances are it’s time to reconsider. 

Trust me, I am a seasoned pro when it comes to thinking I am better than certain things, and it may hurt to swallow your pride. But, when your Big Four accounting internship gets canceled, I’m sure the smaller firm in your hometown will start to look like a better option. And I know unpaid internships aren’t ideal, but they’re still great experience. 

Think Outside the Box

TBH, it doesn’t really matter if companies that are doing remote internships or expanding their remote programs aren’t really in your discipline. Even tech companies need communication people, accountants, and graphic designers. The chances are that these companies have more opportunities that are specific to your interests than you originally thought. It’s def worth looking into, especially if you’ve always been interested in something outside of your major. 

It’s totally different, but last year I interned at a data-driven economy-based non-profit. If you know anything about me, I have very little knowledge or interest in, like, science or math. However, my internship was focused on communication and community engagement. While I did some things related to data, most of my time was spent learning how to build communication plans and work with charitable organizations. 

Who knows? Maybe you’ll find something you love doing or are shockingly good at.

Talk to Your Professors 

If you have a professor whom you really respect or have a positive relationship with, now is your time to shine. (If you’re the type of student who has literally never once been to office hours and shows up to class like twice a semester, IDK how to help you, man.) Most professors aren’t just there to teach a lecture hall full of hungover students three times a week, they also have to, like, research and publish articles. 

Chances are, this situation has been really hard on your professors as well, and not just because they had to learn how to use Zoom. Your professor may be looking for a research assistant or can point you in the direction of someone who is. It may not be paid, but it looks really f*cking good on a resume, and you’ll learn a lot. 

If you’re an overachiever, your professor may encourage you to conduct your own research and submit an essay to a journal within your field. And, like, talk about sh*t that looks good on a resume!

I know that this summer is really stressful, and no one has any clue of what the f*ck to expect. Trust me, I have had no less than eight nervous breakdowns in the three weeks I have been home. However, as my genius friend said in an attempt to comfort me: “we are all in the same boat, it just happens to be the Titanic.” We truly are all in the same boat, and maybe it’s uncharacteristically optimistic of me to say, but I have a feeling that our future employers and grad programs are going to remember the WORLD-WIDE PANDEMIC that took over summer 2020. 

In the meantime, crack a White Claw, take a deep breath, and enjoy competing with high schoolers for views on Tik Tok. I have a feeling we will all make it out the other side of this. 

Reagan Anthony
Reagan Anthony
Reagan Anthony is aggressively from Cleveland and a junior at Tulane University. Her hobbies include taste testing chicken nuggets, 6 AM workout classes, and reminding people of her peanut allergy. If she isn’t color-coding her notes, she can be found stirring the pot at her favorite frat house. Reagan is spending the semester in London, and (like every other basic girl abroad) will be documenting her adventures on Instagram @thatssooreagan.