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Communication Students Finish Internships Remotely

Story By:
Laurie O'Hara | Writer/Editor
ACA Staff Zoom
Molly Spooner ’20 (top left) Zooms with staff at the Academic and Career Advising Office.

Keene State students have been resilient and flexible in transitioning to online learning. In addition, many students needed to adjust their internships to remote work, too. Communication Professor Chitra Akkoor, PhD, is currently teaching an internship course, where students spend eight hours at an internship site, and convene once a week to reflect on individual experiences and practice skills they’ll need in the real-world. For most of these students, their internships have seamlessly transitioned to remote work.

“All of the site supervisors have found something for the students to engage with and while everyone is disappointed that they can’t finish these experiences in person, they’ve been great at making the transition,” said Professor Akkoor. “Of my 15 students, almost all of them are continuing to work. I’m very grateful to the site supervisors.”

“My internship has changed in a large way. I went from going into the office twice a week and attending staff meetings to working via Zoom and email at home,” said Molly Spooner ’20, who is interning with Keene State’s Academic and Career Advising Department. “I’m still enjoying the work and getting valuable experience. My supervisor has been fantastic with communication. We talk multiple times a week.”

Samantha Candow ’21 is working with Industrial Communications and Electronics, a telecommunications company, helping write project briefs and researching project locations. Dylan Donoghue ’21 is at the Historical Society and was helping promote spring events, however, now that work has transitioned to preparing for fall events and conducting online archival research. Marianne Pittman ’20 is interning with the Chesterfield Lions Club and is continuing to help manage their Facebook Page, even though the spring event she was helping to organize was canceled. Another student was already interning remotely for the nonprofit Metacog Misfits writing blog posts. Two students are interning at Memorable Events, a wedding planning company; they are preparing for fall events, working with local vendors, and planning a pretend wedding to hone their event planning skills. In addition, six of Professor Akkoor’s students are interning with Keene State’s Campus Events Office and the Marketing and Communications Office.

“Completing my internship remotely hasn’t been as challenging as I originally thought it would be,” said Kylie Hull ’20, who’s doing a social media internship with the marketing and communications team. “Most of the work is done online. The main challenge is reconfiguring how to advertise events on campus and keeping students involved with our Instagram page. Luckily my internship supervisor and two other co-interns are great at communicating, and through Zoom and email we’re able to keep things running smoothly.”

Kendall Schulz ’21 was traveling to different schools to profile dance students as part of her internship with the New Hampshire Dance Institute. Since that work is at a standstill, she will be using her internship hours to research and apply to summer internships. Another student was at Making Community Connections Charter School, though that work has not been able to persist during the stay at home order.

Through Zoom class sessions, Professor Akkoor has continued her lessons plan of practicing interviewing skills. She coached the students in class and then set up mock Zoom interviews with Keene State alums Katrina Baumgartner ’13, David Gagne ’73, Kristin Brooks ’11, and Susan Fortier ’86. It’s a good preparation exercise, especially now as recruitment activity for jobs and other opportunities shifts online.

“With having to restructure my internship, I have been able to strengthen my crisis management skills, which will be very helpful in the real world when I have a job and have to deal with an unexpected event,” added Molly.

The professor also pointed out that this remote working experience is beneficial for her communication students. “They are learning how to work remotely and a lot of people do that in a variety of industries, so this gives them a chance to know whether they prefer remote work, going into an office, or a combination of the two,” said Professor Akkoor.

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