Op-Ed: Opportunity arises during COVID-19

Design by Grace Barattini

Design by Grace Barattini

Grace Barattini, Assistant Features Editor

An opportunity can always come out of any situation. Surprisingly, that is what exactly happened to me during the coronavirus pandemic.

Once Utica College announced we were transitioning to online classes for the remainder of the semester, I knew that not only would my classes be affected, but also working for the Tangerine and completing my internship. I wanted to act fast and make sure everything was taken care of. 

Luckly, with the amazing help from my professors and the Tangerine staff, I was able to adjust easily to what seems to be the new normal. 

My internship was also able to be adjusted, but with just working remotely, there was definitely a lack of hands-on learning and experience happening so I sought out another internship opportunity. 

With a network connection to Madison County NY Government within the Emergency Management Operations Center, I was able to secure an internship over spring break for the rest of the semester. Without really knowing much about what I was walking into, I was excited to be able to get hands-on experience with crisis communication and emergency planning during this pandemic. 

Because I am a Public Relations major, I have learned countless amounts of information on communication and planning and was eager to apply that. But within the first week, I was exhausted both physically and mentally from working hard and applying what I know, but also from learning many new things. 

My day usually consists of a morning briefing and with that comes going over how the number of coronavirus cases has increased. Then I attend meetings throughout the day and I typically do graphic design work. 

Although I have a good idea of what my day is going to look like, there is something that always pops up, whether it is a large spike in positive cases or the need to find personal protective equipment (PPE). 

There have been days fully designated to planning a possible pop-up hospital in the event that the county’s hospitals get overloaded with positive patients or recovery planning and strategizing; how will we go back to normal? 

For a whole week, my work consisted of assembling over 1,000 face shields with a fellow intern for our county healthcare workers and first responders. Other times, we had meetings to brainstorm alternative PPE due to the shortage. 

I have been doing a wide variety of tasks during my time at Madison County, even tasks related to my current field of study. I have also been able to refine my graphic design skills and writing through press releases and social media posts. 

In doing this internship, I have found numerous new interests and created plenty of professional connections. I have also found a passion for emergency planning and helping in a time of need, especially during a worldwide crisis. 

But most importantly, I have been a small help and guiding hand to keeping my community safe and informed about the threatening coronavirus. 

The best part of this experience was being in a highly active work environment with something always going on, whether it was a press conference or a briefing, the work is non-stop in the office. 

To say that I am grateful for this unexpected experience is an understatement. I hope other students will be able to find opportunities like this during unprecedented times.