Since Ohio State canceled travel abroad for students due to COVID-19 March 11, international internship opportunities have been few and far between — at least before glancing online.
The university announced Oct. 14 there will be no travel abroad opportunities in spring 2021. Despite the setback, students looking to add to their resume or intern around the globe have another option: virtual internships.
Dominic DiCamillo, program manager for undergraduate experiential learning programs in the Fisher College of Business, said the Fisher Global Internships: Virtual program was developed after students were unable to reap the benefits of the in-person program this past summer. DiCamillo and others within the program identified partners around the world and developed a virtual internship “trial run.” What started as an experiment now spans 14 countries with more than 40 spring applicants.
Although the program is through the Fisher College of Business, any undergraduate student who has a 2.75 or greater GPA and is in good standing with the university is eligible.
“There is demand for students that aren’t just finance and accounting majors — public affairs and communication majors, engineering, these are internship roles that are available abroad,” DiCamillo said. “Companies are looking for students to fill those positions, and so we’ve opened it up and worked very closely with the Office of International Affairs.”
Jeannie Simmons, director of education abroad, said the decision to cancel international travel was deliberately made early enough so students can meet housing renewal deadlines, schedule classes on campus and not make study abroad payments. She said a committee of university medical and health-risk experts and the Office of International Affairs based the decision on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Department of State travel notices and foreign travel restrictions.
“I think that people were incredibly disappointed, as we were, but it wasn’t at a point of no return,” Simmons said. “No one had bought a flight yet, no one had put down thousands of dollars yet. We’ve learned from how unpredictable the pandemic has been.”
Joyce Steffan, senior director of the Office of Global Business in the Fisher College of Business, said the virtual internship program will not replace the currently canceled in-person program, but will remain separate from it, likely even when international travel resumes.
She said the virtual program allows flexibility that students may prefer to in-person global internships, especially when it comes to price. The virtual program costs $995 for the semester, rather than between $5,000 and $6,000 for the in-person program depending on location.
“We’ve done enough research to know that [cost] is the primary barrier for more students going abroad,” Steffan said.
She said the Fisher College of Business has a global grant available for participants from the college, which can be accessed on its website. She said other colleges offer similar grants and scholarships that can be found on their respective websites.
The Fisher Global Internships: Virtual summer application is now open on the Office of Global Business website. Information sessions will be held this Tuesday from 1-2 p.m. and 3-4 p.m., and can also be found on the website.