How COVID-10 could affect my career as a junior in college


Serena in the summer of 2019 at an internship in Cape Town, South Africa.

Abundant free-time is not usually the first thing that comes to mind when I think of my college experience. As a third year with a full schedule of classes, an internship, a job and an occasional social life, my time at my school is usually scheduled weeks in advance and as tightly as possible. As soon as classes transitioned to online instruction, free time became my new normal.

During the week-long suspension of classes, my friends began to disappear daily. To avoid cabin fever, I spent huge chunks of my day sitting outside as the only responsible way to leave the house. 

Since transitioning to online learning, I have developed a greater appreciation for ways to be productive in idle time. For the first time in years, I have been reading two books a week, something I haven’t had time to do since starting college. My newfound alone time felt enriching at first, but as the days in self-isolation increase, the reality has started to sink in that I may not see my friends until August.

As a junior, many of my closest friends are seniors who may never come back to campus now. Every year in college comes with saying goodbyes to certain people we may never see again, but we expect it in May, with the clean break of graduation. With my friends graduating from home and possibly never returning to Mercer, things feel untidy and unfinished.

Finances have meant that I have to leave my student apartment, moving back home with my parents for the first time in years. As a junior, this summer is a crucial time for internships to prepare me for graduating and starting my job search. Because of COVID-19, my internship applications have extended decisions indefinitely or cancelled positions entirely. 

Although the threat of getting sick is terrifying, my biggest fear is what a summer at home without an internship would do to my career. Now that the US is entering a recession, unemployment after graduation feels like an even bigger threat.