Regine Anastacio, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) ’21, didn’t know her internship would be at risk when New York declared a state of emergency. So, when she was forced to leave her position with global talent agency Management in late March, she was taken aback and disappointed.
“I miss it a lot,” Anastacio said of her role as a digital content, marketing and image archiving intern, a job she’d held since February. “It would’ve been nice to continue to work there because it was something I really enjoyed and have wanted for such a long time.”
Anastacio is not the only student struggling with the loss of an internship. As the coronavirus spreads, more Fordham students are finding themselves in similar situations. With states implementing stay-at-home orders, many offices where students work are closed.
“On one hand, it’s good for employees to stay home and be safe, but on the other hand, a lot of these students, like me, need the money to support their housing/school/lives and it is hard to earn during this time of quarantine,” Anastacio said.
On March 12, Anastacio’s internship was put on hold when the office closed. Later, technical limitations concerning the job’s required hardware did not allow her to work from home.
Anastacio said, “At the time, I wasn’t too worried about it because I wasn’t fired or anything and I thought that this quarantine lockdown wouldn’t be too long,”
Only 10 days later, on March 22, Anastacio’s internship, along with many others at Management, was canceled due to the loss of clientele. As a communications and culture major, this was a significant letdown — the position was ideal for her intended career path in digital marketing.
“This was one of my dream internships. It was helpful because I got to learn a lot about the fashion industry from a marketing standpoint and I was able to hone in on my organizational skills,” Anastacio said.
Although Anastacio was not financially dependent upon her internship, she relied on it to gain experience and contacts. She lamented her lost opportunities, saying, “I was finally working in an established fashion talent acquisition agency and I was looking forward to creating new connections within the fashion industry.”
Still, Anastacio acknowledged that she is grateful for having the time to explore other internships in the future. “Thankfully I’m just a junior and this doesn’t impact my career or future too hard,” she said. “I hope that seniors that are graduating are able to land on their feet after this and I know that they definitely have the potential to do that.”
For Andy Vega, FCLC ’20, the cancellation of his internship threw a wrench in his plans. He was interning for the second semester in a row as a talk programming intern for the SiriusXM show “Bennington” before the program was suspended on March 15. The internship was extremely important for his future goals to “work in video/audio production and eventually have a career in comedy as a writer/actor.”
“The SiriusXM internship has been particularly helpful in learning about the radio industry,” Vega said. “Working with a small team within a large company has made it easy to network and improve my technical skills.”
When the program ended, the human resources department sent an email to interns announcing that “the internship was suspended until further notice.” As of now, the program is still suspended, and Vega does not expect it to start again, as everyone is still working from home.
In addition to internships, student jobs were affected too. Gabe Carrillo, Gabelli School of Business ’22, had been working at the Fordham Law School mailroom, a job which began the first week of spring semester. After everyone left campus, Carillo’s job ended since mail no longer needed distributing. Carillo also lost a portion of his income because he is not a part of the work-study program.
Carillo explained that the loss of his job led to him losing skills and contact with many professors. “While not very specific to my career goals, it did help me with my time management, organization skills, as well as getting to interact with a lot of professors that taught in the law school and learn of their lives and how they got to where they are,” Carrillo said.
Aside from affecting students with local internships and jobs, the outbreak of the coronavirus has also impacted those preparing to intern abroad. Loreen Ruiz, FCLC ’21, planned to participate in the Fordham in London Summer Internship Program. When the Fordham Study Abroad program was canceled mid-March, she was devastated.
“Through the program, I would have spent my first month in London taking an international business class, and the second month at an internship placement,” Ruiz explained. “As a result of different circumstances, I haven’t been able to secure internships in relevant fields of interest in past summers, and so, this summer I was really hoping to get an internship in an area that I wanted to work in.”
With the program being canceled, Ruiz has to scramble to make new arrangements. “I don’t have alternative plans for a summer internship now that my program has been canceled,” Ruiz said. “I’ll be reaching out to organizations that I’ve worked with in the past and see if they need any help.”
In a time of so many unknowns, Fordham students are struggling to deal with the uncertainties in the workplace. The internships provided students with hands-on learning experiences that they are unable to get in the classroom. Without these opportunities, students will enter the workplace with not only less experience, but also fewer contacts.
“It’s such a complicated situation,” Anastacio said. “Obviously, we shouldn’t be going out anywhere and don’t need to be spending money but personally, it does give me anxiety about what I’m going to do after this quarantine period.”