Moving to Boston, Massachusetts in January, Gabrielle Savidge worked with patients who suffered traumatic brain injuries or strokes at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.
But with the spread of COVID-19, Savidge, a senior recreational therapy major, was in shock to find out her internship had canceled all in-person fieldwork on March 18 and she would have to find a way to leave Boston.
“I was far from my home in New Jersey, so it wasn’t like I could just move back home immediately,” she said. “I still have a place here in Boston and I have to pay April rent.”
In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, companies have shifted to teleworking and some employers have canceled their internships altogether or moved them to remote work, Business Insider reported. Temple University students with Spring 2020 internships are transitioning internship hours online or searching for new internships to replace canceled ones.
Now at home, Savidge is continuing her internship online, which will hopefully allow her to complete it, she said. She’s concurrently preparing to start her master’s program in occupational therapy at Temple in June.
“The initial first and second weeks were rough at first, but after that, I’ve forced myself to get into an hourly schedule and stick to that as best as I can,” she said. “I’ve claimed my office space downstairs though so it’s gotten easier now.”
Casey Genett, a senior Spanish major, is interning at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia as a member of Patient Media, an educational and therapeutic broadcast program designed to help children cope with health care experiences. She produces TV and radio broadcasts for children throughout the hospital.
When she found out the internship would be moving online on March 13, she was disappointed, she said.
“This was something that I was very excited to go in and do because it was something new and something for me to learn,” Genett said. “I was already dreading the April 10 end date, nevermind having to start working from home in the middle of March.”
Although in-person work is suspended, she’s successfully managed to keep up with her work from home. She’s worked with her supervisors and other members of her team to produce show rundowns and flyers for the broadcasts.
Although initially upset about how her plans being upended, Genett says that the outbreak needs to be taken seriously.
“It was kind of like going through the stages of grief where I kept denying it, but after taking a step back, this is more serious than anyone could’ve thought and the best thing we can do right now, especially working at a children’s hospital, is protect the vulnerable,” Genett added.
Lu Ann Cahn, director for career services for Klein College of Media and Communication, is continuing to provide support for students searching for new internships.
“It’s a unique time for everyone, so we’re just trying to help everyone who might’ve had their plans for the summer affected,” Cahn said. “We’re working to match students who may have lost an internship with other companies.”
Cahn has held a series of Zoom meetings titled “Lu Ann’s Declassified: Career Survival Guide,” where she’s worked to address student concerns face to face.
“Right now it’s not only important that we help people looking for internships but also our graduating seniors,” Cahn said. “We expect this summer to be rougher than usual for them.”
Mike Angelucci, a junior business management major, lost his internship with Ross Stores. He had a feeling it was going to get cancelled but was stunned when he heard the announcement.
“I have a friend who’s an engineering major who goes to a different school who had hers cancelled so that’s when I really started worrying about mine,” Angelucci said. “A week after I heard that, I was still pretty shocked to learn mine was also cancelled.”
Angelucci is currently looking for another internship or part-time job to keep himself occupied in the summer. He worries for himself and other students who may have not enough experience for jobs they apply for in the future.
“Employers want experience, but if there’s a global pandemic then how can you get any of that experience,” he said. “It’s very annoying.”