Butler University CCOM students navigate internships in COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected internships for CCOM students. Collegian file photo.

KATIE DEAN | STAFF REPORTER | kldean@butler.edu

Just when students thought they had their summer and fall internships set, COVID-19 had other plans. When the pandemic struck, employers needed to reevaluate employees and costs, and that meant internships were often the first area to be cut. 

Scott Bridge, internship director for the College of Communication, has seen how challenging it has been for students to find opportunities to gain experience in their field. While it is hard to give a percentage, Bridge is now seeing companies either reducing the number of interns they hire or simply canceling their internship offerings.

Normally, many departments within the College of Communication require students to complete at least one or two internships before graduation, and students must have a certain number of prerequisites in order to receive academic credit for them. Bridge sends multiple emails a week notifying CCOM students about any internship opportunities that cross his desk.

To ease students’ stress, the CCOM internship requirements have been adjusted; the deadline for getting an internship was pushed back to Oct. 1 and the required number of internships has been changed. CCOM has also worked to add on-campus internships for students.

 “They are doing valuable work, and thanks to our multimedia coordinator Erin Earnest, there are CCOM internships which they started over the summer and they’re continuing into the fall, and they’re very, very good experiences,” Bridge said.

Working closely with students, Bridge has seen firsthand how determined students take initiative and branch out of what their major or internship interest may be in light of limited internship opportunities.

“They are ingenious, they are entrepreneurs, even if they don’t realize that they are, they come up with ideas themselves,” he said. 

Though the process can be tiring, Bridge believes exploring different fields and experiencing rejection is crucial in helping students learn more about themselves.  

“That’s also a strength of doing the internships is that you find out how you stack up against your company,” Bridge said. “So you get a pretty good idea in college. What do I need to do to get better? What areas do I need to build on?” 

Kylie Stine, a senior strategic communication and Spanish double major, is among the students who have gotten creative in looking for an internship. She was looking forward to completing a summer internship after studying abroad in Barcelona, and when that internship fell through, she was able to secure another internship. Still, Stine was still left wondering what her fall semester would look like. 

“I knew that if I were doing an internship in the fall, I would want something that was either all-remote or that I was very confident that it would still continue,” Stine said. 

Interested in hospitality and tourism, Stine intended on pursuing another internship in that sector for the fall, but knew she had to keep an open mind with the number of companies canceling internships. Rather than focusing on the negative parts of the process, Stine’s open mindset led her to Indy Maven, a digital magazine and community of Indianapolis women. 

“It was the best-case scenario,” Stine said. “I’m so grateful that I was able to find this Indy Maven internship because I’m loving it so far. And it has a lot to do with what I want to do in relation to when a lot of other things are not currently most readily available to have an intern right now,” Stine said. 

Stine assists in Indy Maven’s communications and events department to connect events with the digital era. She said has had nothing but a positive experience, and while hospitality may have been her original preference, Indy Maven has been “incredibly formative” in allowing her to gain experience in other work that she is equally as passionate about. 

“Amidst COVID, I think that one, my adaptability, and two, my resilience, has really grown, and also my digital capabilities just growing up in an increasingly digital world has given me some skills that I will need for entering the job market amidst this crazy time,” Stine said. 

Kate Fulton, a junior strategic communication and journalism double major, works on campus at the Center for Faith and Vocation as a communications intern, and shared the unexpected rewards she has experienced during her internship. Before Butler enacted a shelter-in-place order, she went into the office on Monday, Wednesday and Friday for a few hours and was able to help anyone who came in. 

As Fulton is an active member of the Catholic community on campus, an email from the director of Butler’s Campus Ministry caught her eye. With her prior connection to CFV, she knew this would be a perfect opportunity to align her interest in communications with her passion for the mission of CFV.  

“They promote living a life of meaning, purpose and contribution,” Fulton said. “I really resonate with that.”

For now, Fulton is working remotely and connecting with other interns through text chains, Zoom calls and emails. She is excited and looking forward to it.

“I’m so excited to work with [the CFV], and not only create meaningful and purposeful content and promote their events in that way, but also have meaningful and intentional conversations and interactions with other students and other faculty on campus,” Fulton said. 

Bridge echoes the importance of having adaptive attitudes like Fulton and Stine, stressing the need for students to be flexible, open-minded, and to reach out.  

“Talk to people, don’t just sit there in your room and stew about this and wring your hands, get out there and let people know, and because there are lots of resources at Butler that will help you — not only when you’re a student, but when you graduate,” Bridge said.

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