College Internships: Global Pandemic Edition

By Maiya Mahoney

Ty Orloski, a Hospitality and Tourism major, interns with Flagler College as the Special Events Intern during COVID. Photo submitted by Ty Orloski.

Finding an internship is stressful enough for college students. Throw a global pandemic into the internship process and the search becomes much more difficult. 

Internships provide college students with first-hand experience in their potential career path. With social distancing measures in place and mask mandates, the internship experience looks different compared to past semesters. 

Working with internship coordinators within each department at Flagler College and getting student internship credit approved across campus is Cassandra Everly. Everly works in the Career Development Center as the Coordinator of Employer Relations and Internships. 

“Virtual internships are becoming a little more common for us and we see so many companies still working remotely right now,” Everly said. “Internships have kind of gone through a cycle as COVID has progressed. We are pretty much back up to normal pace now, but as far as postings go, it did slow down for awhile again once COVID hit and employers were really struggling with what was going to happen next.”

Flagler students, such as Jamie Davis and Ty Orloski, have been able to get internship positions at Flagler as more roles are counted toward internship credit due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Davis is the Secretary of Public Relations Student Society of America at Flagler and has been able to receive internship credit for this position. 

“This year everything will be virtual for our Communication Week at Flagler,” Davis said. “Normally we fly in speakers and have the event in-person. It’s actually made the planning easier, but we don’t get the in-person experience.” 

Orloski, another student intern at Flagler, works for the college’s office of Special Events.

“I got the internship through a Zoom interview and started it the first week of January,” Orloski said. “As a Hospitality and Tourism major, working in events has definitely been different because I’ve had to do a lot of cancellation notices, implement Level Three COVID protocols for in person, and make sure chairs are six feet apart for events.” 

COVID risk level at Level Three means there is a very high exposure and spread with limited activities as much as possible. This risk level urges for individuals to follow all current health orders, such as wearing a mask, sanitizing and maintain social distance. For Orloski, this can prove to be a challenge when hosting events.

Though wearing masks are mandatory around Markland House, where Orloski has been given his own office as an intern, he is still trying to operate as normal as possible. 

“Overall, despite everything, I’m still grateful to get the opportunity to work on campus,” Orloski said. “It’s important for me to still have that on-campus experience.”

With Florida being a popular tourist destination, one of the departments hit the hardest by the pandemic is Flagler’s Department of Hospitality and Tourism. However, despite the struggles faced, the Hospitality and Tourism Director, David Rivera, has seen a turnaround and been able to adapt.

The Department Hospitality and Tourism has partnered with virtual management companies that offer a total of 30 modules, 15 hotels and 15 restaurants. Students have been able to count this virtual experience towards internship credits. Rivera has also had businesses coming into class virtually and interviewing students through Zoom for summer internships. 

“It’s valuable to be working anywhere in the industry,” Rivera said. “Be open minded, do not close the door on any opportunities. The more you can diversify your portfolio of knowledge, the better you will be.” 

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