Being an intern during the pandemic

Ferris is well known for implementing real world experiences into its curriculum, but this has become much more complicated during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Almost every degree offered here requires an internship prior to graduation. Numerous students have had changes made to their internship plans, faced with unprecedented times. 

However, Ferris students aren’t having to do this all on their own. Megan Connaghan is Ferris’ internship programs director. Connaghan has been working to provide extra support to students throughout the pandemic. She encourages students to utilize Handshake to connect with employers and other virtual recruitment events.

“Due to the pandemic, recruiting is mostly being done virtually,” Connaghan explained. “Even though companies may not physically be on campus, students can connect with employers online to discuss internship opportunities. Many students complete their internships during the summer, so it’s important that students know how to connect with employers this fall.”

As students watched COVID-19 unfold in the spring, some were uncertain on how their internships were going to continue. 

Senior accounting major Gretchen Parker was trying to finish her bachelor’s degree in the spring semester. This past January she had an internship in Grand Rapids at Hunger for Nickles. When the pandemic hit in March, she had to finish the remaining months of her internship online. 

“Switching to online, it was way harder to learn new jobs and concepts,” Parker said. “In the three months in person I learned more than in the six months online.” 

The was just about to sign a lease on an apartment in Colorado for an internship this past summer when she got the news that this internship had been moved online as well. 

“I was disappointed because I had plans to go to concerts and events with other interns to help develop relationships,” Parker said. 

As she looks ahead to the spring semester, she has plans to return to Hunger for Nickles for another internship. However, it’s already been decided that it will be remote. Similarly, during the summer she was scheduled to do another audit internship in Colorado, which ended up being a remote position as well.

Parker isn’t the only student who has had plans change during the past few months. For hospitality management junior Kamryn McKay, the pandemic made a big change to her intended summer internship. 

“I was supposed to do my internship at a South Carolina hotel, but they had to cancel. I ended up at Level One bank, and it has been the best experience,” McKay said.

Although things have changed for many students, some departments have been affected less than others. Diane Maguire is the PGA Golf Management Assistant Director and Internship Coordinator. Unlike many other programs the PGA GM students have had mostly normal internships this summer and fall. 

“Our PGA Golf Management students are fortunate because the pandemic has not impacted the golf industry as much as others during the last 8 months.” Maguire said. “This stroke of luck can be attributed to the nature of the sport. Golf is largely played outdoors and can be played individually which allows its patrons to safely socially distance.”

For a lot of other students however, the changes have caused an increase in stress levels. Business and criminal justice senior Meagan Van Loo was just one of many who are concerned about the prospect of landing an internship during the ongoing pandemic. 

“I think it will be harder to find an internship this fall because there are less jobs and people don’t need as many employees, and many businesses have downsized.” Van Loo said.