Manager Post: Internships During a Global Pandemic

Updated: September 2, 2020


By Alec Rocel Ramos
Design Civil Engineer at DCCD Engineering Corporation

Since 2017, I have worked as a Design Civil Engineer in an engineering consultancy firm called DCCD Engineering Corporation, located in the Philippines. For the past three years, I have worked with several Civil and Sanitary Engineering interns. This year, we have been greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Internships have always been an integral part of the curriculum for most undergraduate programs. An internship allows students to learn beyond the four corners of the classroom and to apply their knowledge and skills to real-world situations. It also lets students get a glimpse into possible future careers. While most students prefer internship programs with compensation and incentives, the best internship programs are the ones that prepare students to be competent and well-rounded professionals after they graduate.

Here in the Philippines, most engineering undergraduate degree programs require students to complete 160-240 hours of work to fulfill the internship course requirements of their program. Since most colleges and universities start in July or August, students typically complete their internships from April to June.

Under DCCD Engineering Corporation’s internship program, interns are engaged on different ongoing projects under the supervision of a Senior Engineer. Some of the interns are assigned in the office while others are assigned in the field or at construction sites.

Unfortunately, this year is very different. The entire Metro has been put under an enhanced community quarantine to contain the spread of coronavirus. Thus, all office and field work, including work at our company, is temporarily suspended. Our current interns have had their internship program postponed since they cannot work remotely from home. To ensure students can still complete their internship requirements, many universities have allowed their students to reschedule and finish their internships once the community quarantine is lifted and the national government allows all sectors to resume normal operations. Other universities have opted to cancel the internship requirement of the curriculum and asked students to do research assignments instead.

Globally, this pandemic has greatly affected the usual internship programs, but you should not lose hope when it comes to getting an internship or job. As the world adapts to the “new normal,”  you can also look for top companies that offer virtual internship programs or work-from-home setups. In this trying time, you can also refocus your search on finding internships or jobs in industries and sectors that are still operating more normally. These might include healthcare, food and utility sectors, consulting services, and financial services.

I always bear in mind that learning is a continuous process. You can use this time to focus on honing your skills or learning new things. Even though you are staying at home, you can make the most out of this pandemic by strengthening your written and verbal skills, learning new software, watching tutorials, attending webinars, learning a new language, or taking online courses. This will allow you to boost your resume and show employers that even during a global pandemic, you are focused on your career goals and your future as a working professional.

For civil engineering students without internships, take this time to learn software such as AutoCAD, STAAD, EPANET, and HECRAS. These are used globally in the engineering field, and will help you get a great position later on. You can also consider strengthening your MS Office knowledge. You can find engineering webinars and online courses in water supply, geotechnical engineering, stormwater management, environmental engineering, and more. You can also study engineering management or engineering advancements for a more general overview.

One last word of advice: An internship is an important experience and students rely on that exposure. However, during this time, employers realize that things are different. You can expect them to look upon whatever you do favorably and have the utmost consideration for hiring new graduates. In the meantime, utilize this time to enhance your strengths and learn new skills. It will give you the best shot on your next application, and eventually, you can land your dream job and get hired by your dream company.