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Ally Financial moves summer internships online, pledges a learning experience

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As the United States begins reopening from the coronavirus shutdown, many companies are reconsidering how to safely conduct their summer internships. 

According to an April 3 poll by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, 65% of firms are making changes to this year’s internship programs. Only three weeks earlier, 90% said they expected to operate as normal. About 35% of companies will reduce the length of their internship by delaying the start date and 15% say they plan on reducing the number of interns. Nearly two-thirds of businesses say they will not revoke offers to full-time recruits and interns, while 25% say they are considering it. 

The poll also shows 29% plan on moving to an entirely online experience, which is the strategy of Detroit-based Ally Financial, which has a major presence in Charlotte. Ally extended more than 90% of its internship offers in November before the crisis started. But the company’s 124 interns, who had been assigned to offices in Charlotte, Atlanta, Detroit and Fort Washington, Pa., will instead take part in a 10-week virtual program. About 53 of the interns were headed  to Charlotte before plans changed.

Ally’s internship program ” provides us an expanded talent pool, strengthens our employment brands and increases the likelihood of success for entry-level hires,” says Kathie Patterson, the bank’s chief human resources officer.  “It is important that this program continues for years to come, whether that be in person or virtually.”

The company’s goal is to provide the same sort of experience as in a normal setting. The curriculum is structured around education, building business acumen, networking and providing real-world experience by assisting and leading on projects.

Ally is incorporating technology its teams are already using to facilitate collaboration during the program and is shipping laptops to the interns to insure access. Patterson says the move online will only require extra expenses in shipping the computers.

To give a sense of the company’s culture, Ally is using Zoom to host virtual team buildings, webinars and participate in service opportunities and community relations. 

“We see this situation as an opportunity to learn about our potential, our effectiveness and our ability to execute in a work from home environment, and to use those learnings to strengthen our programs going forward,” Patterson says.

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