Firms know canceling their summer programs makes sense and are ready to do it. The holdup? Finding a way to proceed that doesn’t incur reputational damage. The natural way to think of the logjam breaking is for one of the elite New York firms to make the first move, just as they do on salary increases. The announcement would be twofold: we’re canceling the summer program and we’re giving you a full-time offer for next year.

This latter part is zero cost for firms to include and yet will be irrationally well received by the would-be summers. I know of one consulting firm that last week canceled its program for college juniors and simultaneously made them offers for full time. To my surprise, it was taken as a net positive; the students seemed to discount the fact that they would probably have gotten full-time offers anyway. For firms, its inclusion is cost-free as they will want an incoming class of 2021.