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What to Do Now That Your Summer Program/Internship Has Been Canceled

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Our heart breaks for high school juniors, high school seniors, and college students whose lives have all been flipped upside down with the COVID-related cancelation of in-person classes, graduation celebrations, standardized testing, and, of course, summer plans.

Even if your summer program or internship was canceled (first off, we’re sending lots of virtual hugs your way!), there’s no need to panic. In fact, we encourage you to use this extra downtime to make alternate arrangements that are just as fulfilling. Here are some key pieces of advice to help you plan your next steps accordingly. 

1. Reach Out to Your Program/Internship, ASAP

If you feel like you’ve been ghosted by your summer program, now is the time to reach out — but, of course, be patient as you await a response. Chances are, your hiring manager or internship coordinator is crazy busy right now, and you’re probably not the only summer intern who’s looking for answers. 

And, as you await your response, try to stay positive! For all you know, it’s possible that your program will just adapt to online learning or remote work. So, you may not need to change your plans, after all! But, of course, it’s good to be prepared — which is why we recommend reaching out to your program sooner rather than later. If you don’t know how to word your email, use this CEA-approved template: 

Dear Hiring Manager, 

First, I hope you are well and staying safe given these uncertain times. 

I am supposed to participate in the _______ summer internship program, starting ________. While I continue to look forward to this exciting opportunity, I wanted to check in to see if the circumstances have changed due to the coronavirus outbreak. I am sure you and your colleagues are extremely busy, but I was wondering if there were any updates in regards to the internship program and how interns will participate.

Thank you so much for your help in this matter. I look forward to hearing from you soon. 


Your Name

Tip: Before you send this email, triple-check your inbox to make sure you didn’t miss any emails from your company. It may have ended up in your spam folder or junk folder!

2. Do Your Research

 If your program has officially been canceled, it’s time to focus on Plan B. You can still find resume-boosting experiences that’ll make you stand out. A lot of schools have online summer programs and classes, some of which may even allow you to obtain a special certification. Ask yourself: What may help you to excel in your field of interest? For example, if you’re interested in pursuing a career in healthcare, it may be beneficial to take an EMT training course.

 If you’re not sure what you want to be when you grow up (TBH, who does?!), take some time to think about what truly interests you. For example, Columbia University has a ton of online courses for high school students,  including “Introduction to Digital Filmmaking” if you want to get started on your movie masterpiece and “Inside the Animal Mind: What Animals Think and Feel” if you felt bad for the big cats in Tiger King

If you don’t want to shell out the dough for a college course, there are a ton of inexpensive and even complimentary resources out there on the Internet, including this handy list of free online courses. Google Garage, for example, affords individuals the opportunity to get certified in digital marketing through a series of 26 modules. Meanwhile, Free Code Camp will teach you all the basics of HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript, GitHub, and more. 

3. Get Creative

If you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for, get creative! After all, the Internet is one of the best free resources available — so use it to your advantage. Build your own at-home curriculum with information sourced from experts on LinkedIn or lectures from YouTube (psst: Our YouTube channel is a pretty great — and free! —  resource, if we do say so ourselves). Start a new non-profit initiative that links your academic interests and your desire to help other community members during the COVID crisis. The opportunities really are endless. 

No matter what ends up happening with your summer plans, you always have the ability to create new and meaningful experiences. We’re rooting for you! 

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