First, let me start by saying COVID-19 has greatly affected the whole world much more than words can describe. What has happened this year is truly an unquantifiable tragedy. Nevertheless, I would be lying if I said I didn’t initially feel especially victimized by the virus.
This started for me back in the beginning of March when it forced me to return home early from my college semester abroad in Spain. In fact, during my last few days in Barcelona, I actually contracted the coronavirus and brought it back to my family in New Jersey. The crazy thing is, I would not rank being sick with the virus or having my semester abroad cancelled as the worst of what COVID-19 did to me this year.
That distinct honor goes to the fact that it cost me my dream summer internship working at NBC Sports as a production assistant for the 2020 Summer Olympics.
Ever the sports fanatic, my life revolves around sports.
I remember watching Michael Phelps break records left and right during the 2008 Olympics. I also remember going to Montreal, where the 1976 Olympics were held, on a family trip in 2008, and swimming in the Olympic pool. I even remember my 9th birthday party, which I demanded have an Olympics theme, and creating events for all my friends to compete in.
So, when I got the Summer Olympics internship offer last December, you can imagine how excited I was. I will never forget that surreal moment and how happy I was. My face was flushed red, my eyebrows trembled for hours. I couldn’t stop smiling and giggling out of pure elation. I had done it. I had secured my dream internship!
Fast forward a couple months to the end of March, a few weeks after I returned home from Spain.
The world is in shambles. Almost all international sports leagues have suspended operations. One morning, as I’m taking a final exam, I get an Apple News alert saying the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has postponed the Games to 2021. Shortly after that, an NBC Sports representative reached out to me and the other interns to tell us our internships were officially cancelled.
There I was a rising college senior — with no internship.
Questions swirled in my head. What will I do this summer? Will employers understand why I didn’t have an internship before senior year? What does that mean for my future aspirations to become a sports journalist?
After a short pity party, I quickly re-directed my frustrations and started applying to every other internship I could find. I wasn’t going to allow the pandemic to be the reason I didn’t have a summer internship on my resume. Thankfully, I landed a position with the Time4Coffee Podcast and I was able to start my internship right away.
But I won’t lie.
For about the first week or so, I still felt sorry for myself and had a little trouble getting motivated. But after I got over that initial hurdle, I realized there were valuable hard and soft skills I could learn from this remote internship.
First, I became a much better communicator, which was essential considering I had never formally met my boss, Andrea. In fact, I wouldn’t have known what she looked like if it hadn’t been for Zoom chats. Second, I really came to embrace my other role running social media for the Time4Coffee brand. I took pride in my work, wanting to better all the content I put out on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
But perhaps the best thing I got out of this internship were the many life lessons I learned from spending hours editing Andrea’s podcast interviews with professionals in dozens of different careers. It was comforting to hear these professionals, some of whom are extremely successful in their respective fields, talk about times where they struggled and how they persevered.
It was a message that really resonated with me, especially because it felt as though I had just missed out on the internship opportunity of a lifetime.
Here are a couple of the other biggest takeaways I learned:
- Planning for a specific career is good, but it’s not the be-all end-all. And it’s not only okay to deviate from that plan, but it’s also very common for that to happen.
- One ‘failure’ won’t define you and eventually, everything will be okay.
Undeniably, the coronavirus threw me a wicked curveball.
But, I also learned firsthand, that when life throws you a curveball, you can’t expect to hit a home run. However, you can still be productive and maybe you’ll get a base hit, double, or even a triple.