BGSU students adapt during COVID-19 for internships

internships-during-covid

Pandemic canceled many opportunities, but other doors opened

By Meredith Troxel ’20

Since March, many Bowling Green State University students have had to adapt in more ways than one.

With classes turning to all online and businesses across the world shutting down for weeks, many summer internships were canceled or postponed. That made things difficult for numerous BGSU students because, for some, internships are required to graduate.

Many students, with the help of faculty and staff, were able to find new internships or transition to gaining experience through an all online format.

In celebration of National Intern Day on July 30, these two BGSU students found ways to adapt, even if their summer plan was not what they had hoped.

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Emily Eskuri

This summer, Emily Eskuri has learned to be open to change and to always use your resources and connections when you need it most.

Eskuri, a senior from Roseville, Michigan, is studying mathematics with a specialization in data science. This summer, she is interning with First Solar in Perrysburg, Ohio. Luckily, her internship has not been strongly affected by COVID-19 and is still working in-person at the office. Her team is able to utilize WebEx when possible and continues to follow COVID-19 health protocols.

During her time, Eskuri has been creating documentation for a programming language, SAS, and highlighting areas most commonly used by First Solar employees. Although she was not familiar with SAS, she was able to learn about the language and what key items she would use to complete her work.

Eskuri did have another internship lined up but was canceled shortly after the pandemic hit the United States. She was able to find a new opportunity less than two months later by contacting companies through LinkedIn and connecting with the university recruiter for First Solar.

“That was devastating for two reasons,” Eskuri said. “The first reason was because I wanted to apply my studies in a company setting to have that real-life experience before graduating next spring. Also, I rely on the money I earn during my summer internship to cover my cost of living throughout the school year.”

During the school year, Eskuri works with the Office of Academic Assessment as a student learning analyst and was able to adapt to working through video meetings with her group.

“We all learned how to be a facilitator in an online meeting and how to be an active participant when someone else is facilitating the meeting,” she said.

With her internship ever-changing, she has learned to be open to change and understanding that there are times where your mindset has to be adjusted. She realizes that it is not always easy being productive when independently working from home, with distractions being easily accessible.

“However, this is the situation that we have to live in and adapt to. If you change with the times, then more opportunities will be available to you,” Eskuri said.

Eskuri advises students to learn to be flexible, since our current world is always changing, and plans do not always work out.

“You must be open to change in order to be an effective employee to your company and to elevate your success level,” Eskuri said. 

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Marie Ochoa

Marie Ochoa has certainly seen the meaning of “the third time’s a charm” as her internship this summer was her third offer, after her first two were canceled because of COVID-19.

Ochoa, a tourism, hospitality, event management (THEM) student from Toledo, is interning this summer at Catawba Island Club in Port Clinton, Ohio. Originally, she was set to intern with MGM Casino & Resorts International in Las Vegas. She was supposed to spend nine weeks in Las Vegas before traveling to Italy to work alongside a wedding planner.

After her experience with MGM was called off because of COVID-19, Ochoa was offered a position with the Hersheypark Resorts in Hershey, Pennsylvania. In the midst of finalizing her internship with Hersheypark, it was canceled as well.

During the school year, a representative from Catawba Island Club came into one of her classes and spoke. Ochoa remembered this and applied. She was offered a hybrid position that combines working in their dining room and working alongside their chief operating officer.

Ochoa also works alongside other interns to plan an event before the end of their time at Catawba Island Club. She is managing the marketing for the event, including designing a website, creating a registration link and even planning specialty drinks.

She has been able to work her internship in person, with COVID-19 protocols including less tables and more sanitation processes.

“Getting out to interact with people after months of being cooped up was refreshing,” Ochoa said.

Ochoa, who will graduate from BGSU in December, has truly learned to always plan for the unplanned. Although working at Catawba Island Club was not what she originally had in mind before March, she met new people and gained new opportunities.

“I have learned networking is important. The members at the club have provided me a lot of names and places to look into for the start of my career,” she said.

She hopes that other students that are dealing with changing internship plans is to never worry about things in life you cannot control.

“Be thankful for the opportunities you’re still given,” Ochoa said. “While you may not be where you planned, you can still appreciate the experience you’re still getting.”