On the evening of February 10, 2020, I was sitting at my desk in my dormitory room, breathing a sigh of relief – I had just finished submitting my first round of summer internship applications and I was feeling optimistic. There was still snow on the ground and the sound of a highly contagious virus bursting onto the public stage had yet to reach the Grove City College campus. Like other students in the US, I had no idea what was coming. I even started researching intern housing for the summer.
Two months later, I’m thinking I should have read it again Mars and studying communication best practices for discrete video chats. I don’t think I’m alone when I say that learning during social distancing feels a bit like being in a bubble on the moon, and I know I’m not alone when I admit that my plans for this summer have evaporated.
Educators working with the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USASBE) decided they had to do something to help students affected by this challenging new situation.
Wednesday 22 Apriln.d, the organization held a virtual conference with educators and students across the country to discuss “summer internship and income opportunities during COVID-19.” The conference featured multiple speakers and topics ranging from career exploration to reflections of former “crisis grads.”
James Zebrowski of the Collegiate Entrepreneurship Institute spoke about “Tools for Students and Student Perspectives.” Zebrowski discussed how students can take this time – during summer break – to look for job and internship opportunities online, using platforms like LinkedIn and a website called jobs.ceo.org, which is specifically for entrepreneurial students. He also noted that students should try to be open to positions in organizations they have not previously considered working for.
“As an entrepreneur you always have to keep your eyes and ears open… Something to consider is that, while you may not be interested in working for CVS, Krogger, etc., working there will teach you a lot about that industry or market. “
Later Dr. Juanita Morris, Richland Community College and J. Morris Enterprises is a first generation entrepreneur. Dr. Morris explores how students can take advantage of opportunities lost due to COVID-19, instead of taking time to deeply assess their interests and skills.
Dr. To check the skill sets of the students. Morris’s advice includes finding “your flow”, noting that “who you are, what you do and what you believe – they have to align”. He advises students to focus on the things that motivate them to work hard and move them forward, the things they are already good at, and cultivate those things as they continue to plan for the future, because Dr. As Morris wisely puts it, “If you plan for today, you’re completely behind”.
The final speaker was Eric Koester of Georgetown University and Creating Creators, who discussed the “Crisis Grads and Portfolio Expansion Projects Fellowship Program.” Koester points out that students shouldn’t worry about not getting their first-choice dream internship or job right away – “the brand name of your internship is far less important than what you’ve built where you’ve been”. She recommended that students use this time to work on a project that they would be able to put into a portfolio to show employers – a book, blog, podcast, design project, etc. The idea is that creating your own “internship” will show employers your transferable skills and knowledge, just as well as a resume builder position, and maybe better.
Koester set up a program this summer to help students build their portfolios at home with a virtual, 5-month Portfolio Expansion Project (PEP) fellowship. The program is free and open to all majors, including project fellowships in non-fiction writing, creative writing, podcast or audio production, and video course production. Interested students can apply and get more information here.
The presentations were uplifting to witness and remind me that this is a time when we are called to resourcefulness, which often leads to brilliant creativity. And, as Dr. Morris so eloquently puts it, “If the goal is to live a life that is absolutely amazing and the best it can be, you have to do Be an entrepreneur”.