The COVID-19 pandemic brought a great deal of uncertainty to individuals worldwide. Due to the rapid spread of the virus and the deadly impact it has had on nearly 120,000 Americans, many businesses were closed down for in-person operations. These actions led companies to downsize and lay off workers as well as convert their operations to an online arena.
COVID-19 directly impacted students who had summer internships, jobs, or study abroad/work abroad plans. Despite the new challenges presented by the global pandemic, many Clemson Students still found a way to advance their career development.
Read about how Clemson Students have turned their challenges into opportunity:
KJ’s original plan for the summer was to stay in Clemson to take classes and participate in summer football workouts. However, when team workouts were postponed and classes were moved online, he had the freedom to travel home to spend time with his family.
The class that has been impacted the most by being in a virtual setting is his sign language class. KJ mentioned that learning a new language, especially sign language, is very hands-on during a face-to-face class. Instead, KJ has to watch videos and lectures to learn the language. His class now involves a lot more assignments than his previous sign languages courses. These assignments are often videos that he must take of him signing to ensure to his professor that he is learning the language. Still, KJ found that one positive aspect of the online forum is that he is able to do the assignments on his own time and has as much time as he needs to think things through before turning them in.
If this had been a typical summer, KJ would have been in week 10 of summer workouts with his team, instead he has been working out from home. This has been difficult for KJ because he strives to be the best player he can be and can never know for sure if he is getting the full workout his coaches would be giving him. Additionally, KJ does not have access to nutrition, rehabilitation, and medical staff resources. Nevertheless, KJ has been able to make the most of the situation by working out with family and friends, sleeping more, and being able to fit his workouts more easily into his schedule.
In his newfound free time KJ has mostly been hanging out with his family and friends, getting schoolwork done, and playing video games. Overall, the best thing that KJ has been able to do during this time is take a step back and think about life. He has been able to reflect and make sure he’s doing what he wants to do and that he is on the right path to achieve his goals. Further, KJ has had more time to think about and process the current social and racial injustices that are finally receiving the global attention they deserve and how he can foster change.
Before the COVID-19 disrupted the world, Natalie had planned to move to Charlotte, NC and start her job in July at E&J Gallo Winery in their Sales and Leadership Development Program. The program would place her as a sales representative where she would be work directly with the distributor. Natalie would have managed several accounts where she would go to liquor stores and bars and work directly with the owners to engage and encourage them to sell them different wines and liquors based on their consumer touchpoints. Her tactics to do so would include building displays, having wine tastings, and more. Given the level of engagement and interactivity required in her position, her start date was pushed back to August 2020, at the earliest.
Since Natalie does not know when she is going to relocate, she is using this time to change her driver’s license, buy a car, and do other little things to make the transition easier. Some positives that have come out of the delay in starting her job are that she is able to spend more time with family and friends and has more flexibility to be able to do things such as home workouts, making homemade meals, and reading books. She has also been able to go on walks and appreciate nature. The best thing she has done during this time is talk to her study abroad and high school friends, whom she has not had the time to contact in years.
On the other hand, if she is tasked to work remotely in the near future, it will make her job a lot harder because a lot of it involves trying to get people to try a product which is harder to do if you cannot show it to them or let them taste it. Additionally, it will be harder for her to start a new career without face-to-face communication—a key driver in the sales experience.
Isabel planned to spend the summer in Morocco studying Arabic through ROTC Project GO. Project GO (Project Global Office) is a program that provides cadets with language intensive training in a foreign country. Unfortunately, due to travel bans, the summer program was moved to an online forum that will provide her with two months of lessons for four hours a day. This was a disappointing change for Isabel because she will no longer be able to supplement her language lessons with everyday communication with native speakers. She is nervous to have to learn the language at a rapid pace without engaging in any face-to-face conversations and knows it will be a lot more difficult and she will have less available helpful resources. Further, Isabel is often hesitant to speak up or ask questions in Zoom calls because she does not want to interrupt a classmate or fellow student.
To supplement her time, Isabel applied to and was granted a UPIC internship with the College of Science Recruiting and Inclusive Excellence. Here, her main task is managing the science information accounts where she answers email questions about the college of science. She is also involved in COSMIC, a program designed to provide mentoring to incoming students and to increase the inclusivity of minority groups in the College of Science. Towards the end of her internship she will be using this found data to write an end-of-year report. The best part about this internship being online is that Isabel is able to pick her hours, allowing her to often work in the evening. The only negatives Isabel sees about solely being online is that she has to be more adamant about communication with her supervisor than she would if the internship was in person.
In addition to her internship, Isabel has been doing home improvement projects. Her biggest accomplishments were plumbing, taking the door off her shower, and cleaning up and redesigning her loft.
Jack’s initial summer plans were to work as a paid intern at Bohler Engineering in Center City Philadelphia, PA. Here, he would have shadowed engineers who did design work for land development in the city, including land planning, determining where buildings and roads will go, and deciding how to properly integrate utilities. Jack would also have had the opportunity to go to site visits in person, attend meetings with customers, and get involved with as many aspects of engineering as possible.
Unfortunately, Jack’s internship transitioned into a 2-month unpaid virtual internship. This internship is still a great learning opportunity for Jack because he is going to be taught the programs he would have used, attend live lectures, and learn what he would have needed to know to do the job. The biggest downside for Jack about this transition is that he will not get as much hands-on experience which he believes is the best way of learning and would have given him a better understanding of what he wants to do in the future. Additionally, he will still be able to talk about this internship in future interviews, but he believes the lack of experience is a detriment. Further, now that this internship is unpaid, he has had to find other forms of income.
Through this challenge there has been opportunity. The internship transition gave Jack more free time to work and earn income in a warehouse where he helps ship flags. He also able to help renovate his parents newly purchased beach house and help his youngest brother with online school. He has also been able to sleep in and spend time with his brothers and parents.
Since Jack does not have to commute to Philadelphia every day, he is able to live in his parents’ beach house in Ocean City, New Jersey where he also works at a bike shop in the hours that he is not completing his internship. Additionally, since this internship is now less of a time commitment, he will have more time to enjoy summer with his family, since it is his last one before he moves out. Overall, the best thing that Jack has been able to do during this time of uncertainty is safely hang out with his friends while maintaining social distancing. Being able to interact and talk with his loved ones has made this bad situation more bearable.
Clemson’s Center for Career and Professional Development is offering virtual programming, workshops, and guest speakers throughout the summer. This is a great summer to fine tune marketable skills that employers are looking for and the career center is here to help. Below is a schedule of the upcoming events.
Author: Bridget Kane
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