Local college students adjust to COVID-19’s impact on opportunities

Local News

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — Madison Michalic’s final semester of college, and first experiences as a teacher, are turning out much different than expected.

Michalic, an elementary education major and special education minor, at Indiana State University, said she was able to get some student teaching under her belt before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

“With my minor being special education, my time got split up, so my first eight weeks I was in a kindergarten classroom, and then my second eight weeks was supposed to be in a special education classroom,” Michalic said.

Instead, all K-12 schools in Indiana are now closed the remainder of the spring, and Michalic is teaching as many others are; through a computer screen.

“We’re trying to find new, fun ways to incorporate this, because a lot of students can’t learn without being face-to-face,” Michalic said, “So instead of reading a book to them, I might read it online… or I’ll do a math lesson and I’ll use my iPad and I’ll take a math worksheet and I’ll write on it.”

For those not graduating yet, like ISU junior Tara Cassidy, the strain is coming in the form of a complicated internship search.

“I applied to three different internships around December-ish time,” Cassidy said, “And I’ve heard back from two of the three. The one in Indy, I feel like I won’t hear back from them for a while just because of everything going on.”

Cassidy said she’s been in contact with a local company after receiving an internship opportunity, but says the process has stalled due to COVID-19. Cassidy added she’s not alone in her current uncertainty.

“I know some people who have interviewed and gotten an internship and they’re worried about not being able to work in the summer,” Cassidy said.

According to ISU VP of University Engagement Dr. Nancy Rogers, there are around 400 students with spring internships that have had to adapt due to COVID-19-related restrictions.

Rogers said ISU is offering most of those students an alternative way to receive their internship credits. For those still searching for opportunities in their chosen career field, Rogers pointed students to one location.

“Our Career Center is still active and posting opportunities, and I think most larger corporations where a student might do an internship have a Human Resources office that’s still functioning,” Rogers said.

As a cross-country and track and field athlete, Cassidy has had to face other upsetting changes, as she and her teammates miss out on their spring season.

“It’s been pretty rough,” Cassidy said, “It’s just sad to see our seniors have to end like that, and I mean they do get an extra year I think of eligibility…. I mean no one wants their season taken away from them like that.”

For Michalic, the biggest challenge has been the absence of quality interaction with her beloved students.

“It makes me miss my students a lot more,” Michalic said, “Every day I’d go home and be like ‘I miss them’ but now I truly miss them miss them.”

Michalic said she won’t have any issues completing her credits and graduating in May, but due to licensing clinics closing, she may have to apply for an emergency license to be able to teach in her full capacity when schools re-open.

To find internship and job openings available, as well as how to schedule a virtual meeting with staff members, visit the Career Center’s website here.

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