INTERNet: Rethinking Internships in the Age of COVID-19

For many college students, there’s nothing more coveted than an internship. It’s a chance to flex muscles you’ve been developing in lecture halls and libraries and test your gains for real. And not to mention, it looks awesome on a resume.

So, what happens to internships when the world shuts down? When colleges and offices close their doors? When students pack their bags and return home to live with their parents? When companies go remote, or hybrid … and stay that way?

What happens to internships when the world shuts down?

With work evolving, we knew we needed to start thinking about how to educate, mentor, and otherwise engage students in a whole new way. And, this summer, Baskervill got to see just what an internship looks like when it takes place outside the four walls of an office. With fifteen students across the country, we took our creative problem-solving to task.

Architecture and interior design interns were given the chance to work in three sectors — hospitality, healthcare, and community — all via carefully-crafted modules organized on Microsoft Teams. The eight-week program included team meetings and collaboration sessions, as well as one-on-ones with mentors to provide feedback, share knowledge, and help hone design and presentation skills. At the end of each module, students presented their work for critique.

Intern work Ahuva Cantor
Student work by Ahuva Cantor

Each of the three modules allowed the students to flex and grow different muscles. While designing a hypothetical hotel, students pushed their creative ability while working within a defined framework. In drafting a conceptual new workspace for a cancer foundation, students considered the diverse needs of the different types of people that use a specific space. Envisioning a new community innovation center, students reassessed their ideas of what innovation means when it comes to inclusion.

Intern work Tyler Harris
Student work by Tyler Harris

Through these hypothetical projects based on real-work opportunities, Baskervill interns gained practical work experience, virtual presentation practice, and, most importantly, valuable mentorship relationships to help them as they grow in their careers.

So what happens to internships when the world shuts down? We reimagine and rework them to meet the needs of students and grow our capabilities as a forward-facing firm. And in a world that’s increasingly digital and global, what makes more sense than an internship that isn’t limited by location?

Student work at top by Stephanie Wilburn


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