Advice for Employers and Recruiters

Will employers recruit on-campus this fall? They want to, but many won’t.

Steven Rothberg AvatarSteven Rothberg
May 17, 2021


A quick look at the calendar indicates that we’re in the middle of May and, therefore, most of the attention of employers of college students right now is on their summer internship programs. They are also thinking about their plans for fall, but not as much.

So, just what are employers planning to do about their internship programs this summer? Will they largely be in-person as they were pre-Covid? Or largely virtual / remote as they were last summer? The answer, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), is some of both. “More than 40 percent of employers are planning to hold a hybrid internship program this summer,” according to current results of NACE’s Spring 2021 Quick Poll on Internships and Fall Recruiting. Few employers plan to return to pre-Covid in-person programs, at least not yet. “Among employers that are planning to have either an exclusively virtual or exclusively in-person internship program this summer, three times as many will have a virtual program.”

Looking ahead, what do these same employers expect for fall? Will they return to the days of flying recruiters and hiring managers around the country to interview hundreds and sometimes thousands or even tens of thousands of students face-to-face and in tiny interview rooms? Well, there’s a pretty big difference between some employers want versus what they expect to see.

According to NACE, most both prefer attending both in-person and virtual recruiting and feel this is the most likely case. In other words, employers of college students expect that their fall 2021 recruiting efforts will be a hybrid between in-person and virtual. A slightly smaller percentage — one-third — would prefer to stick with the almost exclusively virtual recruiting programs they used in fall 2020 at the height of the Covid pandemic, but about a third more (40 percent) feel this is most likely. Interestingly, only 13 percent of recruiters relish a return to the road warrior days when all of their efforts were in-person and on-campus but none — none!! — feel that this is likely.

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