Graduating During a Global Pandemic

Ahhh graduation – what a great achievement for any college student. After four long years of work, you’ve finally earned your college diploma. You can walk across that stage on graduation day, friends and family in attendance to applaud your efforts, and be pleased with what you’ve done. At least this is how most students feel upon graduating. However, this is not quite the case for students graduating during a global pandemic.

In March of 2020, Covid-19 started effecting the United States on a large sale. Many of us knew about the pandemic occurring in China, and all the efforts they had produced in hopes of stopping the spread, but eventually we were witnessing the effects up close, and not just on our TV screens. For us Sport Management students, March came with the pausing of sports around the world, which put some requirements for graduation in jeopardy.

Before graduating, our last semester is based entirely around an internship we land which gives us real world experience in the field we’ve been learning about for four years. However, with sports being paused, and at the time, no set date to return, many of us realized finding an internship would not be easy. Many organizations were not looking for interns, and if they were, the number of opportunities were reduced significantly.  Minor league teams, which is typically a good landing spot for an intern as you usually get the opportunity to work in many fields over the course of the internship, didn’t offer any internships in some cases. In fact, some students who had landed internships, had those taken out of their grasps due to the circumstances.

From the beginning, we had professors telling us that those who made the most of this pandemic, would find themselves in a better position to be hired once things return to normality. I took their word on it, and began to do little things that may help me in the future. I received online certifications, I spent every night for weeks learning Photoshop through online courses, I read books which would give me knowledge of the industry, and most of all, I made new connections. My internship, which I’ll talk about below, has given me the opportunity to make connections with some of Cortland’s finest graduates and I truly value that.

I’m currently interning with SUNY Cortland’s Sport Management Department with three of my former classmates. We’ve had a list of things to do since our internship began, including the management of social media accounts which was particularly useful for me, as somebody who would like to have a career in social media. I did not expect to have to complete my internship from home, when I arrived at Cortland four years ago, but here I am, attempting to make the most out of a global pandemic.

I’ve talked to many Cortland students in my class, thankfully, many have found internships and are making the most out of these difficult times as well. However, I also have friends who haven’t been so lucky, and have been forced to wait till the fall semester to complete their internship. All of us want to graduate. Sure, we’ll miss many things that happened during our time at Cortland. The truth is, we’ll never see many of the friends we made there ever again, and due to the pandemic, we didn’t know that would be the last time we’d see each other. However, we couldn’t control that, but we could control how we responded, and I feel that myself, and the graduating class I am a part of, have responded well.

Graduating during a global pandemic is an experience not many share, and the shared experience the class of 2020 has, is only going to benefit us in the long run, as we are prepared to overcome the most extreme obstacles we run into. I am pleased that I am one member of the group who shares this experience, and I am excited to see what the future holds for us.

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