Virtual internships

Career kickstart: Virtual Spider internships lead to job offers

March 15, 2021


As much of the world turned toward remote work, students in search of internships had to rethink how to approach such opportunities. Internships often lead to full-time positions upon graduation, and that held true for some UR students. 

Trey Burleson is majoring in leadership studies and business administration with a finance concentration. He relied on SpiderConnect to land his internship last summer with Dominion Energy. He will join the company after graduation as an associate financial analyst where he will finally meet the people whose faces he has only seen over Microsoft Teams this past year.

“Unfortunately, at the time the internship rolled around, it was completely virtual,” Burleson said. “Dominion sent us laptops and all the material we needed. So just getting to know people’s voices and faces has been interesting.”

He said his background in the Jepson School of Leadership Studies has been helpful, especially in a virtual environment.

“Through Jepson, I’ve learned group recognition and cognitive recognition to understand situations, leader/follower roles, and how to best identify and assign roles to people’s talents,” he said.

For other seniors like Jack Gillies and his roommate Elias Sturim, their canceled internships with AlphaSights, an information services company, turned into full-time job offers. 

“It was crazy because the news was all in the same email,” Gillies said. “Literally the first paragraph said, ‘We’re sorry, but due to COVID-19, we have to cancel the 2020 summer internship program. But, congratulations, we’re happy to offer you a full-time offer.’”

Gillies, who studies business management, entrepreneurship, and leadership studies, accepted the offer because of the uncertain job market. Once at AlphaSights, he’ll be placed on a team that handles clients from specific industries.

“It’s been really relieving to have something already lined up and not have to worry about looking for jobs while also doing school,” he said.

Senior Laurel Suchsland's externship with KPMG her sophomore year led to an internship this past summer. That internship also turned virtual.

“The internship became more training-based, but we still had networking opportunities via Skype,” said Suchsland, who is majoring in leadership studies and accounting. Her prior experience with KPMG provided her with knowledge about the company culture and decreased her anxiety about not having met anyone in person.

“It takes such a weight off your shoulders the rest of the year, regardless of COVID,” she said. “The fact that my internship even happened despite having to adjust it, and then to get a job offer makes me very thankful.”

Some of UR’s signature programs, including A&S Next, Jepson’s EDGE Institute, and the Robins School of Business’ Q-camp pivoted to a virtual environment to provide networking opportunities for students.

EDGE is normally a one-day event designed for students to meet with alumni and learn critical skills and strategies for internships, jobs, and graduate school. This year it kicked off Feb. 20 and will run for four weeks.

“I would say the silver lining is that since the alums don’t all need to be here on campus, more can participate,” said Kerstin Soderlund, Jepson’s associate dean for student and external affairs. 

She said about 30 alumni also have offered mentoring through small groups or office hours. Students are able to meet with an alum from a field they're interested in joining.

“Our program EDGE would not happen if it weren’t for alumni,” she said. “They have designed the curriculum and do all of the facilitating.”

The business school’s two-day annual Q-camp also pivoted to a virtual format. “Sessions such as mock interviews and speed networking afforded students the chance to build relationships with alumni, corporate partners, and faculty,” said Shelley Burns, director of career programs.

Similar to the rest of campus, Career Services continues to offer the same quality services that UR students, alumni, and employers are accustomed to expecting. In addition to SpiderConnect, a variety of virtual programs and workshops are available for those who are exploring careers or focusing on a specific industry. Additional resources include recordings of general programs, such as Spiders for Social Impact, Obtaining Clinical Healthcare Experiences, and Young Grads in Finance. For more information regarding Career Services’ offerings, visit