I’ve been very impressed with our community partners and the students. The commitment and flexibility speak to the Bridgewater community and the students."
Trying to find the right internship can be intimidating, but during a pandemic, it can feel overwhelming.
That hasn’t stopped Bridgewater State University, which during the fall semester helped place more than 400 students in internships.
At the onset of the coronavirus crisis last spring, BSU staff was busy working behind the scenes to ensure continued internship opportunities.
Internships are particularly important for students whose degree requirements mandate one.
Social Work major Justin Dodge, ’21, is one of those students.
Typically, the social work program requires a senior year placement of more than 460 hours over the course of the fall and spring semesters.
BSU helped Justin obtain an internship at Brockton’s Self Help Head Start, working as a family advocate team member.
“I was very fortunate that I had this placement,” he said.
From assessing the needs of families to data entry, his duties are varied.
One thing that is different than in years past, is that the internship is performed remotely.
That, said Pauline Carlson, Head Start family service manager, has been the biggest hurdle, learning to adapt.
“This year has been extremely challenging. The way we do our job has changed significantly, which has changed the way we utilize our interns,” she said.
For Molly Manning, ’22, her internship working as an assistant at St. Ignatius Church, located on the Boston College campus, was created because of the pandemic.
As an intern, she is responsible for live streaming events at the church, including two separate masses on Sundays as well creating a weekly video for families.
“The church did not typically film anything. They began to use their YouTube pages when they realized churches wouldn’t be operating for a long time,” Molly said.
She intends to pursue a career in the video production field, making her placement a good fit.
“I am gaining experience using high quality camera equipment and video editing software every week, “Molly said.
Having tech-savvy interns has also proven to be advantageous during the coronavirus for BSU partners.
Carlson and her team have a long-standing relationship with Bridgewater State, and have hired many student-interns over the years.
“Interns often have skills that bring a lot to the program including, speaking other languages and especially this year, their skills in utilizing technology,” she said. “They are teaching us better ways to have meetings and reach our clients.”
Diane Bell, director of the BSU internship program said, despite the COVID-19 setbacks, it’s encouraging to see the positive outcomes.
“We have been very intentional about finding resources,” she said. “And while things are being done differently, it’s also provided us with great opportunities.”
For example, more students are securing internships outside of Massachusetts, because they are being performed remotely.
“It’s been great to see our students’ willingness to adapt. It’s been interesting, but there have been some good things to come out of it,” Bell said.
Field Education Administrator Carol Masshardt agrees, and saying that even in the middle of a pandemic, students should not be discouraged because opportunities still exist.
“I’ve been very impressed with our community partners and the students,” she said. “The commitment and flexibility speak to the Bridgewater community and the students.”
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