Seniors take on internship during the pandemic


Contributed by Toby Shapiro

Senior Toby Shapiro interns at Threads, in Westwood. One of her responsibilities is to organize clothes on the shelves.

Sarah Buttikofer, Staff Editor

Despite challenges due to the coronavirus, Internship Program Coordinator Laura McSpirit has done her best to give the senior students an opportunity to find and pursue their passions in the internship program.

“We’re trying to be as flexible as we can this year – that’s our big word: just flexible,” McSpirit said. “A lot of the kids are [partially] virtual, and that’s a little different, but it’s working out. The kids seem to be enjoying where they are, and gaining the experience.”

McSpirit said that the students are doing the best they can, and are working closely with their mentors.

“We did, unfortunately, drop in numbers [of students participating]. But that’s just because of the way the placements were working out. We had everyone set and ready to go before COVID,” McSpirit said. “We interviewed the students, everyone had their placements for the most part, and then, [due to the pandemic], a lot of our businesses shut down.”

McSpirit said students are required to work for 12 ½ hours per week because the program serves as a three period class, but most students usually complete about 15 hours each week.

“I have businesses that I’ve been working with for over 10 years, and they take interns year after year,” McSpirit said. “Some interviews we did during COVID via Zoom, with the anticipation that we were starting in September. We did that throughout the summer.”

McSpirit said that it is difficult for the students this year because the program and separate internships do not have a lot of consistency and structure.

“The kids, [with] the regular schedule that we had last year, could pop into my office anytime if they had a question or a concern,” McSpirit said. “Maybe there was something that happened at their site that they just wanted to discuss, and not do it through an email. It’s harder for them and for us to have that face-to-face sit down [now].”

Senior Emily Sohl is mostly interning virtually, but at times she will go into her internship or to her mentor’s home.

“It really depends on what internship you’re doing, but [during] your afternoon periods, you go into your internship,” Sohl said. “Sometimes it’ll be in the morning, sometimes in the afternoon. I know some people who are virtual like me – I’ve been doing it mostly virtual – but sometimes I’ll go in.”

Sohl said that she is working on social media marketing for Ace Global Business Services and she enjoys the creativity that the internship experience brings.

Senior Toby Shapiro, who works at Threads to help the store operate, said she loves going into the “real world” and experiencing a job.

“[Working at Threads] includes a lot of things like unboxing, new inventory, making prices for the inventory, hanging up the inventory, placing it in different parts of the store, and making it look good and organized,” Shapiro said. “I also communicate with customers and help them find what they’re looking for.”

Shapiro said that she believes the internship experience is more “beneficial” than being in a classroom.

“It’s a different experience because you learn more about how to actually run a business or how to communicate with people in the real world,” Shapiro said. “I think it just gives you more experience and opens your eyes to new things that you definitely wouldn’t learn in a classroom.”

Senior Katelyn Eror said that she thinks the program is “amazing”, and loves everything that she is learning.

“I’m a medical intern at an [obstetrics and gynaecology] office, and I’m mainly in the reception area right now,” Eror said. “Originally, my hope for internship was that I would be in the hospital on the labor and delivery floor. However, because of COVID, they can’t really have students there. I was fortunate enough to get this internship and I absolutely love it.”

Eror said that she spends her hours in the office during her afternoon classes.

“I love the whole thing in general, but I [especially] like the exposure I’m getting,” Eror said. “Also, I’m getting hired by my internship, so it created a job opportunity for me and with the job I’m able to do a lot more – I have more access to a lot of things. Overall, it’s just given me so many more opportunities to learn about the field that I want to go into.”