The pandemic has moved many events and internships online, which has made it more complicated for students to make career connections and meet potential employers.
The junior and senior years of college are typically a time for students to find internships in their field of study. However, for professors and students alike this year is shaping out to be different than it’s ever been.
For the education department it has been an especially trying time because throughout the years at Ferris the students do various levels of internships, fieldwork, and student teaching within the local school districts.
“Big Rapids Public schools has chosen not to have any of our interns,” said Debra Warwick, the student teaching placement coordinator. “That was a huge loss to us, and we miss those mentor teachers because they’re darn good at what they do. But we also need to listen to the administration and the teachers.”
However, Reed City has taken a lot of the Ferris education students, as have Morley, Cadillac, Tri County, and White Cloud. It hasn’t all been smooth sailing though.
“I got a phone call from a principle, and a COVID case just got discovered in the classroom so the teacher now needs to quarantine, and the rest of the kids have to quarantine. Of course, one of our pre student-teachers is in the classroom so she now has to quarantine,” Warwick said.
Warwick further explained that this is at least the seventh time a situation like this has happened so far this year.
Despite the challenges for students and professors alike it has also been a time of learning and creativity.
“They’ll be better teachers because of the craziness. Things aren’t going to throw them, because how often do we have pandemics? We hope we find a cure for this one and things will go back to normal, but I don’t think we will ever forget this. There might be some good that comes out of it,” said Warwick.
Things haven’t been as difficult for the journalism and technical communication departments. Mostly because writing is easily able to be adapted for remote working and learning.
“I’ve actually been surprised at how much of a non-issue COVID has been for our majors so far,” said Zachary Wendler, the head of the journalism and technical communication program.
“We’re doing a lot of the usual support stuff we do every year–having a kickoff meeting, mentoring students as they search, and so forth,” Wendler said.
One benefit of the program being relatively small is that it’s able to work more one on one with students and accommodate their situations.
“We want our students to be pretty advanced in their coursework. Beyond that, we’re looking for our students to do 200+ hours of hands-on work that includes lots of professional writing,” Wendler explained. “We’ve got the same expectations but are trying really hard to keep our students working remotely,” added Wendler.
Human resource management senior Edith Moreno has been looking for a job or an internship to begin upon graduating.
“It is a bit more difficult to find internships because of the pandemic, but at the same time a lot more companies are turning to online resources for their recruitment. By putting these opportunities online, I think it takes the pressure off the student looking for work while also making it difficult to find the “right fit” when it comes to the job or internship,” Moreno explained.
In addition to internships upcoming graduates like Moreno are thinking ahead to their careers and jobs they hope to find upon graduating.
“I am concerned about getting hired as a new grad due to the pandemic because it’s a lot harder to interview and make connections the way we normally would. I’m afraid the employer might not see everything I have to offer by just looking at my resume.” Moreno said.
Nationally this year has been difficult for recent graduates. In December of 2019 new graduate unemployment was at 3.9% and by June of this year it was at 13.3%.