From Wall Street to the tech sector, the most coveted internships in America vanished as the coronavirus pandemic spread from coast to coast in 2020. But, some opportunities remained, as companies sought to recast their internship experiences for prospective future staffers, and try to maintain some sense of normalcy amid the new remote work environment.
As early as April, research covered by CNBC showed employers cutting at least 16% of job postings - possibly, with more cuts made as the realities of the pandemic set in, and as overwhelmed companies decided to back away from temporary employment plans.
Our chart depicts the fabled FAANG stocks - Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google - and traces the rise and fall of internship postings, for the prior year and leading up to the pandemic. Amazon ($AMZN), in particular, appeared to ramp up an aggressive hiring plan, compared to the prior year's data.
There remains data-driven evidence that leading technology companies did in fact follow through on remote work internships - and, for many of these Silicon Valley titans, alternative data reflects a rise in postings even after the pandemic's onset. But it remains plausible there may have also been pullback.
Facebook ($FB), for example, had posted 36% fewer internship-related postings, per data via its website, as of April 1. This could signify that either the company decided to pull back from some of its internships, or, alternately, that it filled them more rapidly than in the prior year. Taken with the context Coronavirus has provided, the former is far more likely. But Facebook still sought to bring on staffers, based on data. Below, we take an aggregated look at the FAANG stocks' internship postings, which reflects a deceleration in postings during the pandemic.
Some companies just gave up altogether on trying to coordinate and train and work with remote interns - while others sought to go ahead with the opportunities. Even when companies try to move forward with remote work for interns, some have noted how difficult it is to get fully ingrained into a culture as both a new staffer, and in a part-time role.
Pepsi ($PEP) went ahead with a remote internship program, and data reflects that its postings were more or less on par with 2019's pace of postings, by number. Now, there's no telling that all of these roles were filled - but reports suggest that quite a few were, and that students are tackling remote work just like C-suite executives.
Rethinking the internship experience is potentially essential to corporations' development - after all they must engage new talent to grow the organization - and some companies, like Pepsi, with executive virtual Q&As and online tours of parts of the business that interns would ordinarily get to see in person, are adapting to the web experience.
However, outside the internship experience, it's unclear what work will await students after they graduate. Across a number of industries, hiring flat-lined as a result of the pandemic, and for some businesses, it is yet to return. Students that wowed internship recruiters pre-pandemic may have opportunities in 2021, but the broader picture of the US economy isn't terribly promising for graduates, now, or in the immediate future.
About the Data:
Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales, and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue, and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales.