Students are taking gap years to avoid online class, and startups are scooping them up

Students are taking gap years to avoid online class, and startups are scooping them up

Only 2.5 percent of colleges are planning a fully in-person semester this upcoming year. Rather than spend a year staring at Zoom, some students are considering taking the semester off. Startups see this as an opportunity to recruit these students into virtual fall internships, Bloomberg reports.

Some firms are organizing virtual career fairs, offering grants to teams of entrepreneurs, and compiling lists of potential employers. Others are extending the terms of their summer cohorts. Postmates told Bloomberg that it may keep some interns on if they take time off school.

Startups are hoping to compete for top students. The virtual nature of the internships could allow the firms access to a nationwide talent pool. And companies hope that potential employees they hook this fall might stay on in the years to come, rather than taking spots at large tech companies. “A great intern who has a great network can often yield compounded returns later down the line,” Nick Schrock, CEO of developer tools startup Elementl, told Bloomberg.

It’s easy to see why a remote internship might tempt many college students at a time when COVID-19 is turning higher education upside down. A number of schools that announced they would be operating in-person classes earlier this summer are now walking back those plans, with many abruptly canceling the on-campus housing they’d previously promised and urging students (some of whom had already signed leases and moved into off-campus apartments) not to return.

Some universities that have opened have already had to take steps to contain the virus. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which is offering primarily in-person classes and has praised its community for “excellent compliance on campus,” has reported four clusters of COVID-19 in student housing, including a student dorms, a fraternity, and a private apartment complex.

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