At FSC, many majors include an internship as part of their requirements. Considered part of their credit hours and observed by a professor, students have had on and off-campus internships all over Central Florida. However, while some students are permitted back on campus specifically to do their internships, requirements must be adjusted this semester to accommodate graduating seniors.
Because internships are a culmination of the undergraduate career, students typically do their internship at some point during their senior year. This makes it a class that cannot be put off until the COVID conditions have changed. One of the biggest issues in this situation may not even be doing an internship; it’s finding one during the pandemic.
Dr. Mike Trice is the director of internships for the communication department. Students in this department have the option to choose between an internship or a senior project. If they choose a project, they must take a Professional Development class with Trice and attempt to find an internship for the following semester. With seven students doing internships this semester, only one is in-person.
“For the most part, all who wanted to do [an internship] in the fall had options,” Trice said.
Though there are usually less Communication students doing internships in the fall, Trice did encourage those who could hold off until spring to do so. However, there were plans in place to facilitate “in-house professional experience” if a student needing an internship to graduate in the Fall could not find one.
“We weren’t going to let the lack of an internship because of the pandemic affect someone’s graduation plans,” Trice said.
Even though the circumstances are abnormal, Trice does not believe online internships will hinder his students’ future job prospects.
“I think the argument is, ‘that was the time frame in which I had to intern, and I had to adapt,’” Trice said. “You can accentuate the positive.”
The changes can be stressful to students. Education majors work in a classroom every semester post-sophomore year, which leaves no room for any time off. However, this semester, these field studies will be done virtually. Senior elementary education major Daria Gill was not surprised by the newest development.
“I fully understand why we are doing virtual field studies, as it is the safest option for all students,” Gill said. “I’m expecting that we will be in contact with a teacher at a school over Zoom, but I don’t see how it will be possible to observe them teaching or to teach the kids ourselves while we are at home and they are in the classroom.”
Despite being understanding of the situation, Gill has some concerns over how this will impact certain skills she will need in her future career.
“One of the hardest parts of teaching is classroom management, and we can’t strengthen management skills virtually,” Gill said. “By this point, I know how to write lesson plans. It’s the implementation of them that I think is still hard, and I really won’t be able to practice that, or classroom management virtually.
As a senior, Gill is also nearing the end of her academic career, which adds other pressures, including searching for a job after graduation.
“I’m mainly worried because next semester is my final internship, and I don’t think I will be fully prepared,” Gill said.
Editor’s Note: Dr. Mike Trice is the faculty advisor for “The Southern.”