For most students, enthusiasm for their internship made way for emotions like confusion and doubt, later on followed by disappointment… The buildup of the COVID-19 pandemic wouldn’t mean that our internships would be cancelled, but very soon we realized, it actually did.
The border shutdowns, setup of travel restrictions and plain out airport closures affirmed our doubts that international internships were a no-go. Soon after, even my local internship organization notified me that they simply had zero work available, so they couldn’t help me out either.
Luckily enough, EhB had already stepped in to support students who were left in the dark. Everyone without an internship would be able to join a new home working project, meant to replace our omitted functions: the TRM Creative Lab.
This project consists of a variation of hubs within the tourism and leisure work field. Since my former internship was all about developing and managing activities and events, I chose to join the Co-Creation hub. We were told that the general mission of this hub was to support tourism and leisure companies with developing new products and adapting them to the current situation. Even though I had preferred to actually work for my original internship company, I was actually pleased with the way my coordinators handled everything. I got to help out youth organizations that are particularly close to my heart. I also worked on different gamified activities and in the end, I still got to help out my original internship company! Even though working this way feels quite different and awkward, I actually enjoyed myself with the global project. Naturally, I also have to mention some downsides as well.
You might realise that the experience gained from actually working in the tourism field is entirely missing. Zero handling with consumers, no performing and no actual expertise made the whole experience feel incomplete: it felt like I had gained no professional training at all, except for maybe some communication skills. Not being able to work under a daily routine, not receiving hourly instructions and feedback, etc. indicated that there was a shortage of professional development.
However, that lack in professional development was compensated by an increase in personal development. Learning to work individually from home, having the freedom to manage your own daily schedule and trying to keep to that schedule were all challenging in their own way. Surely I haven’t mastered these skills because one doesn’t get to learn them in conventional ways, but I believe they will provide useful opportunities in the future. I actually faced a lot of challenges working from my own desk at home. It even magnified my greatest weakness: I know that.
I have an amazing amount of trouble managing time and planning and I observed that I couldn’t keep to a regular schedule: I sometimes started late, sometimes finished late at night and I sometimes even worked in weekends to keep up with only working half of a day in the week. I also felt lazy and sleep deprived from time to time. Getting to know myself in this way is so much the more proof that the TRM Creative Lab was maybe not the most ideal, but still a very successful alternative.
I am incredibly thankful to my school for providing this opportunity, and I learned things in a different way a lot from working in an equally different environment. This pandemic showed humanity that we had forgotten some things: we need to be more humble, but we can also be confident that our adaptive nature overcomes most issues.