There are so many complexities to the situation we’re living through. Not only is the actual pandemic causing us to completely change how we live, but the economic impact from those changes is immense — and still largely invisible. The most difficult part of all is that we don’t know what’s coming or when it will hit. We just know that it will.
It’s like a slow-moving hurricane that’s formed out in the ocean, and the weather forecasters are issuing dire warnings. But the reality on the ground is a sunny day at the beach with beautiful waves lapping at the sand.
It’s a surreal situation.
It’s even harder because using that analogy, we all know that oftentimes, the forecasters are wrong. In recent years, there’s been huge evacuations in places like Florida in advance of an incoming storm… and then nothing. For whatever reason, the models weren’t that accurate, and the storm was either less intense than expected, or it stayed offshore and didn’t cause that much damage on land where it hit.
Is it possible that the economic storm everyone keeps worrying about will be the same type of thing?
Well, it’s possible… but it’s not probable.
The double-whammy of a highly infectious disease that no one has previously been exposed to, plus this slow-moving cloud of doom around economic uncertainty, has caused wholly different reactions in different people, different geographies, different schools, and different companies.
For those who are currently in bschool and are finishing up your first year, by this point you know if that internship you excitedly agreed to just a few months ago is still happening.
In may cases, companies are trying to create virtual internship opportunities and honor their commitments.
That seems to be even more true for Class of 2022 grads. If a company had promised you a job way back when (like, last summer after your 2019 internship experience, or through recruiting in the Fall that landed you an offer) then the reports we’re hearing are that most companies are trying to find a way to keep the commitment. Which is good, as that wasn’t the case in 2008 when the finance system came crashing down.
And maybe that’s holding true for internship opportunities too….
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So, no, not the best news. But, by next year at this time, society, and the business world, will have baked into its norms a new way of working, and these companies will have made new projections on who they’re going to hire at each stage.
The area that is still massively uncertain though: How big will this downturn be? That’s more worrying than coronavirus and we understand the pressure many are feeling to just open up life again and go back to normal, because people need to work and the economy is in trouble and it’s only going to get worse the longer we need to stay on the sidelines like this. If the economic hit is as bad as it’s appearing, then that’s going to be a bigger factor in determining how many MBA students will have internships next year.
There is most definitely a need to get people out of their houses, and back into the shops and restaurants. Unfortunately though, in the U.S., the curve of coronavirus deaths has not leveled off. Sure, it’s most certainly flattened in a major way than if we had not gone into lockdown.
But the original prediction that many politicians were relying on back in March and April to make decisions, from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, well, it’s been updated. And it was unfortunately originally pretty far off. That model thought we’d be at 57,000 deaths as of May 9th, and we were actually at almost 79,000. This thing is really tough to model. The information is still changing too fast. We’re just not yet at a place where we can all go back to life as we knew it. Even modified life, with masks and social distancing, once we release the controls as is now happening in every state and everyone goes back to parks and beaches and restaurants, well, the infections and deaths are going to jump up. It’s a whipsaw, and it’s hard to see our way out of it.
A year from now, yeah, there will be more clarity. We will know how this thing behaves. We’ll have way more answers, and possibly a vaccine, in which case we could be in the long slog of recovery. It won’t be the same world we left behind in January. It’ll be new, all new, and that’s why this part is so painful: Because we don’t know what that “new” looks like, and we are grieving what we had before, that we didn’t know was so precious.
Some bschools are being remarkably transparent, and that’s welcome. If you’re still kicking the tires on whether to put in that deposit or not, just make sure to ask lots of questions to help you decide. The career services and admissions and your student on-boarding team should be telling you information about their current students’ experiences in the job market, and if they’re not volunteering this, then ask. You’re entitled to know what’s going on.
If we can help? Just ask us, too! We’re here for the long haul with you guys. You can leave questions in your School Targets notes field in SnarkCenter and we’re happy to offer input if we have anything worthwhile to say on your situation. Or share with us what you’ve heard, if you care to.
The career services folks are all working so hard to help their students navigate this. Many schools have been doing tremendous outreach to their partners in industry to create new remote internship opportunities together. The schools don’t want students to go without internships and offers. Even though it’s going to be up in the air for some time, higher ed is still a worthwhile bet, especially at master’s level and above. If you’re considering whether or not to take this step now, we can see lots of reasons why it makes sense. Not for everyone, of course, but there’s plenty of good reasons that it might be for you. Even if it means adapting to a new way of learning and working for a time.