When one door closes, break it down

A student describes how her missed opportunities were replaced with unexpected experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Listen to the author read their essay.

When I think of 2020, I think of the saying, “When one door closes, another one opens.”

I started out the year with what seemed like a solid plan: I was set to study abroad twice, have a major internship and round out the year by landing a job. In my head it seemed so seamless, so straightforward, so easy. 

But 2020 had its own plans. 

I began the year studying abroad in Dublin, Ireland. This was a trip I’d been planning since freshman year, and I was living my best life, visiting France, England and Scotland. I had even planned to go to Italy in May, but we all know how that turned out. 

My family flew to visit me in March, right as the COVID-19 pandemic was becoming scarier by the second. Rumors of us going home to the United States were spreading almost as fast as the virus, but I wasn’t ready to accept it. 

I, along with others on the study abroad program, told ourselves it was just like the flu. We kept saying we’ll be okay because we’re young and healthy, the cases aren’t that bad and it’ll get under control before we know it.

On Thursday, March 12, only two days before my parents were supposed to go home, I received an email from Global Opportunities at the Klein College of Media and Communication. 

The subject line read, “Suspension of Study Abroad Programs in Europe.” My heart shattered, my eyes flooded and my hopes vanished in our hotel room in London.

But the pain wasn’t over yet. Just weeks earlier, I was getting ready to cover the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as a news producer, creating live shows about community life in Tokyo, Japan, during the Olympics.

Hundreds of people were losing their dreams, but thousands of people were losing their lives. I had no choice but to accept it. 

The same day, I received another email I was dreading to receive: not only would I have to go home within a few days, but I wouldn’t be going abroad again anytime soon.

The message said the Temple University Television Tokyo trip was canceled due to rapidly changing events surrounding the spread of COVID-19 and rumors that the Olympics may be postponed. 

Hundreds of people were losing their dreams, but thousands of people were losing their lives. I had no choice but to accept it. 

Not only did I come home one day before St. Patrick’s Day — a huge holiday in Ireland that the whole country looks forward to each year — but I came home a month before my 21st birthday. What should have been one of the most celebrated milestones of my life became a day of Zoom parties. 

Because all of my classes were moved online and I didn’t have a place to live on campus, I went home. Instead of exploring the world, I was back to scooping ice cream in my small hometown like I was 15 years old again.

With all this happening so quickly, it was natural to want to sulk and feel bad for myself. But I was just comforted by the fact that I wasn’t alone. There were also so many more people in the world who had it much worse than I did. Although many doors were closed and locked with no key to be found, new ones were broken down.

I had the opportunity to return to my passion — producing news — the reason why I’m in school in the first place. I returned as a producer for Temple Update, TUTV’s live 30-minute weekly news program that broadcasts throughout Philadelphia.

In the Fall 2019 semester, it was a hard decision for me to leave producing for an opportunity to study abroad, but producing was there for me when I got back — I just came back sooner than planned.

For the entire summer after the spring semester, I produced daily briefs and news articles for Temple Update. I also worked alongside Temple Update and other Temple media outlets to create content reporting on how COVID-19 was affecting Temple and greater Philadelphia area. I finally had something reliable and consistent in my life after weeks of upheaval. 

Once the summer was nearly over, I was thinking about continuing to lead Temple Update into the Fall 2020 semester. It would be my last semester, and I knew I was up for the challenge.

Temple Update was going through the transition to continue weekly live shows. We were an organization used to having more than 30 people in a room together. We needed to learn how we could still put on a production with a fraction of that. 

We learned what positions we were able to hold virtually or in different production studios within Klein College. We created new ways to communicate online, rather than relying on someone being at our side. In some ways, we found this new way of organization even more efficient than before. We not only made it work; we made it better.

It’s been a lot of responsibility, but it’s a monumental honor to lead the team as a Supervising Producer through a semester like no other.

Although I was ecstatic, I knew I wouldn’t have an edge on the competition without an internship when applying for post-graduation jobs. I had only ever interned at my local newspaper, and I wanted to have another one in time for my December graduation. 

I was planning on interning at a local news station for my final semester, but that door had closed in March when they discontinued their internship programs due to the pandemic. 

Last summer, I was turned down for internships I’d applied to, all of which told me to wait another year. Well, I did, and I felt like I was cheated. 

Although they weren’t taking interns, I knew of an opportunity that could replace that experience: a job as a production assistant at NBC10 Philadelphia. 

I had gotten an email from the hiring manager. Within minutes, I heard back. He said that there was an opportunity coming up in a couple of weeks and for me to wait for his call. A few weeks later, I got the job. Soon, I was operating the teleprompter, answering calls and editing video clips for the station’s website and social media. 

I’ve learned so much about the broadcast news industry from this position, like how to be innovative and creative when building a show from scratch each day. I’ve also learned it is my responsibility as a producer to tell a story in its entirety with integrity. 

I took this opportunity even further by getting close with one of the producers who has been like a mentor to me. She’s been a blueprint for what I want my career to look like, and I’m so thankful for the few months I got to shadow her and learn more about the industry.

Within a couple of weeks of knowing her, she connected me further with an executive producer in Fort Myers, Florida. The station was looking to hire me, and because of her, she helped me seal the deal.

This year has been a journey filled with detours, but without these roundabouts, I never would have moved home, further developed my producing skills, acquired my production assistant internship, met my mentor and landed a job. I wouldn’t be graduating early in December with a job as a news producer in Fort Myers, Florida. This would never have happened without my connections within Temple Update and NBC10 Philadelphia.

At the beginning of the year, I only thought about all of the things taken away, but by the end of the year, I have gained much more than I could have imagined. 

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