NewsGetting Back to School


University of Akron creates paid internships for students sent scrambling by coronavirus pandemic

University of Akron
Posted at 3:32 PM, Jul 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-14 18:44:53-04

AKRON, Ohio — With major companies canceling or pausing internships and pulling job offers, students all over Northeast Ohio have been sent scrambling.

The University of Akron immediately jumped to get creative and help students rebound.

Sofia Palma is about to be a junior at the U of A and like so many other students, Sofia’s summer plans were set — or so she thought. The marketing major was supposed to be spending these months down in Nashville, working in the music industry.

“Yeah.. my summer internship was canceled and I was really stressed out,” Palma said.

So, she switched course.

“I keep saying I’m lucky to be at this age during this time because I can adapt very easily to what is going on,” Palma said.

She’s now working at the Akron Chamber of Commerce, a paid internship done virtually — and one that is giving her real-life experience, even if it is through a screen.

Jacob Farrar is the director of the Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at the University of Akron.

“A lot of internship opportunities basically fizzled away, there wasn’t anything for students,” Farrar said.

Internships are a requirement for marketing students to graduate — and it wasn’t one they wanted to waive because of how important it is for long-term careers.

So they pivoted — and instead of helping students find internships, the university created them — through internal projects at the college and with nonprofits in Akron. Thirteen students are working — and getting paid — on behalf of eight organizations.

“It’s a little bit different in the sense that they aren’t working on behalf of a company, they’re working behalf of the institute on a project for an outside organization,” Farrar explained.

This way, students can get the experience they need, even if it isn’t the way they imagined it.

“Definitely the advice we gave to students was just keep applying, keep researching, and prepare yourself,” Farrar said.

The University of Akron hopes to get back to placing students with major companies next year.

But they want to keep the new program as an option for the future, especially for freshmen and sophomores who want to get marketing experience early on.