KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For students whose summer plans fell through, organizations across the metro are working to make sure internships are still a possibility.
The DeBruce Foundation is teaming up with area partners to provide students a virtual head start in their careers.
The national nonprofit foundation, based in Kansas City, Missouri, works to expand pathways to economic growth and opportunity. One of those ways is student success and internships.
However, this summer, they had to pivot their summer plans due to COVID-19.
According to Glassdoor, internship hiring fell 39 percent in April 2020 compared to the same time last year.
"We’re building talent and sometimes it’s talent for today, but sometimes it’s talent for tomorrow," The DeBruce Foundation Senior Director, Robin Smith said. "And so our work pipeline suffers if we don’t have those ways for people to gain work relevant skill. And so it functions on that level and then individuals' level of really connecting talent and opportunity."
That's why the foundation is seeking out opportunities, not only to hire their own interns but partnering with area organizations that help students get internships.
"There are different partners that we work with that they wanted to test and try virtual internships," Smith said. "We were able to provide financial support for them and also different kinds of tools that we use."
Hire KC, Startland Internship and Urban Leadership Fellowship are the partners the Foundation is working with and providing funding to allow more students the opportunity for a virtual internship.
Alex Oleson, a rising senior at St. Louis University, is The DeBruce Foundation for this summer and says it's been a fairly smooth transition going into a virtual internship after completing online learning for the last three months.
"In some instances, it does give you a bit more flexibility," Oleson said. "It’s kind of like working from home but I like it and I like that there’s definitely an aspect of dependability."
Oleson is studying political science with a minor in economics and urban poverty studies. He said he's been able to delve into various areas with the foundation, including strategic planning, media, marketing and communications and product development, where he's able to provide his insight.
The foundation also has a product development lab. Some of their career corps. students participate in a paid, virtual experience to help the foundation with its professional development tools.