Breaking Ground 106 - Internships During a Pandemic? Check!

Real-world work experience is a key piece of inclusive higher education programs. But what does that look like in a global pandemic? Meet Carter, Garrison, Faith, Otis, and Lauren – students who didn’t let COVID keep them from building their work skills.

Carter Poland, a young white man wearing a green face mask, seated at a table with a laptop in front of him, working
Carter Poland, ETSU Access student

Access ETSU (East TN State University)– Johnson City

Carter Poland

Carter Poland is a first-year student in the Access ETSU program. A chief focus of the Access program is getting students ready for real work for real wages in a field of their interest. Campus life and internship opportunities were limited on campus due to the pandemic. So, Carter has had to think and work in new ways to explore his career interests.

Carter studies digital media at ETSU. He did a virtual job shadow experience with the marketing team in ETSU's University Relations department last fall.  He learned more about the design and e-marketing work they do. He also worked on a variety of marketing projects and helped manage the social media channels for Access ETSU this semester.

Carter explored some freelance digital media work with the Council for Exceptional Children - Division of Career Development and Transition. He worked to set up a consultation meeting via Zoom and designed a membership recruitment flyer that met their needs.

Carter says, "I applied to some jobs, but it's been tough to find jobs.  I'm doing an internship for social media and marketing. I like social media and designing things. We created a flyer for DCDT to help them get new members and emailed to them. We made a logo for Access ETSU with letters, the ETSU badge, and mountains. We made a flyer for Access ETSU with Garrison on it. We've been using Canva and Photoshop."

Garrison Buchanan cleans the fitness equipment. A Young white man with Down syndrome dressed in athletic gear wipes down fitness equipment in a gym.
Garrison Buchanan, Access ETSU student

Garrison Buchanan

Access ETSU student Garrison Buchanan dreams of working in the sports world. He has taken classes through the Sport, Exercise, Recreation, and Kinesiology department. He has also found related work experiences and paid employment with ETSU Campus Recreation at the Basler Center for Physical Activity (CPA) on campus. 

Garrison had plans to help lead group fitness classes at the CPA this year. He also wanted to take his talents and interests into the community at local recreation facilities. COVID paused those plans. But Garrison remains a relentlessly positive team member at the CPA and has taken this chance to build new work skills. 

"Last year when I worked, other people were working out. I worked at the front desk, swiping IDs and helping people work out," Garrison says. "Now, it's been mostly cleaning - cleaning machines, windows, sweeping. I keep things clean so people can be safe."

Savanna Moeller is Assistant Director of Operations at the CPA. "Garrison's role as a Facility Assistant with ETSU Campus Recreation has shifted due to the pandemic over the course of the last year," she says. "Previously, Garrison worked during our midday shifts on the weight room floor and at the equipment desk. In this role, Garrison assisted members with locker checkouts and weight room tasks. During the pandemic, Garrison now works during our midday closure, when members are not in the facility, to assist the team in cleaning and maintaining equipment. This change in schedule and duties has provided a healthy and safe environment for all!"

Union student Faith wearing a bright pink shirt and standing behind the front counter at the restaurant where she works, in front of the cash register. She’s wearing a mask and a name tag.
Faith Moore, Union EDGE

Union University EDGE program – Jackson

Faith Moore

Faith Moore is a go-getter.  She loves working with people and serving others.  Faith is a part of the optional third year with the Union EDGE Program at Union University.  She lives in an apartment off campus with another EDGE graduate.  The two are living independently and doing life well.

Faith volunteers with the local church, and she works at Chicken Salad Chick in Jackson.  She worked hard to get her driver’s license and drives herself to and from work daily.

Faith is determined to reach the goals she has set for herself.  She doesn’t let others’ expectations hold her down. Even in the midst of Covid-19, Faith found a job in a place she loved and has achieved so much!

The Union EDGE Program is proud to work with Chicken Salad Chick in making employment possible for all.

Otis, a young Black man who is a University of Memphis TigerLIFE grad; he is shown smiling and wearing a hoodie.
Otis White, University of Memphis TigerLIFE

TigerLIFE, University of Memphis – Memphis

Otis White

Otis White is a proud graduate of the TigerLIFE Class of 2020. During the pandemic, staff at the University of Memphis Institute on Disability’s Job Placement Unit used Zoom to help Otis learn about his goals and interests. In February of 2021, he was connected to ServiceMaster by Stratos, a company that offers professional cleaning services to many local businesses. His first assignment was to work at the FedEx Forum, the downtown arena that is the home of the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies team and the University of Memphis’s men’s basketball team.

After observing his strong work ethic, his supervisor hired Otis to additional ServiceMaster teams cleaning several local banks. Now, Otis works around 30 hours per pay period. His motivation, self-determination, and TigerLIFE experiences are helping him work toward his goals and build his skills.

Lauren, a young white woman with glasses and a visual difference, short dark blonde hair and a flowered blouse outdoors at Lipscomb, smiling
Lauren Ciangfaglione - Lipscomb IDEAL

Lipscomb IDEAL – Nashville

Lauren Ciangfaglione

Lauren Ciangfaglione is a first-year student in the IDEAL program at Lipscomb University. IDEAL focuses on a college experience that gets students ready for real work for real pay and independent living.

Despite the pandemic, Lauren was able to complete two internships on campus. Her first internship was with the College of Nursing where she learned valuable office skills. She was often given challenging tasks to complete, such as scanning, organizing, and filing student documents and putting together School of Nursing marketing materials. Lauren showed a high level of work ethic as she learned new tasks and worked hard to complete them on time. Lauren also worked on self-advocacy skills by telling her supervisor about extra tasks she was interested in doing.

In the Spring 2021 semester, Lauren interned with the College of Education. She worked for many different faculty and staff members to create materials, make copies, laminate, organize student teaching resources, and file. Lauren continued to build on the office skills she learned in her fall internship while getting more efficient. Her supervisor said, “Lauren is wonderful!!  EVERY assignment and task I've given her she has completed in record time, and correctly!  She's always early to work, always smiling, and always joyful!  We are LOVING having her!”

Lauren’s career interests include working in an office setting or as a teacher’s assistant. She says, “I am hard working, patient, friendly, organized, and kind.”