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COVID-19 Unexpectedly Changes Final Stretch For Sport Industry Interns

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5/5/2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the sporting world to a standstill. The Tokyo Summer 2020 Olympics have been postponed. Previously, the Olympic Games had only been canceled due to war. Although Argentina, Australia, and Russia initially soldiered on with various sports being played behind closed doors, the events were eventually canceled. Most of Europe, the United States and Canada, and Asia hit the pause button with the hope that things will return to normal; however, contingency projections continue to make headlines anticipating the curve flattening.

The vast majority of the sports world has focused on COVID-19’s effect on athletes, coaching staff, team owners, and fans, yet there is one group that has been ignored by the media. Students fulfilling internships at professional, amateur, and semi-professional sports organizations have taken a major hit due to the pandemic. For some, the opportunity to learn first-hand with a sport organization was taken to further a potential long-term career in sports. Not all, but some students have had their dreams put on hold.

Feeling Of Being Robbed

Students are also being robbed of valuable learning experiences that were preparing them for a career in the sports world. Blake W., a Coordinator Intern with the Affiliate Leagues, is experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic. Blake had been learning on the job as a productive paid member of the workforce. However, the provincial state of emergency and sports shut down ended his chance to learn from experienced professionals in the workplace.

It [COVID-19] is robbing us of the high instruction/high learning aspect of the internship.Now, we need to work from home without training – for no pay.

Blake W., Coordinator Intern with the Affiliate Leagues

Blake will still finish his diploma program and get the hours he needs from working remotely. According to the aspiring sports management professional, he is only partly affected.

“Those who can’t complete their internships remotely will have graduation in question or have a problem at the minimum requirements in regards to how to make those lost hours of learning up,” he said.

The Optimistic View

The good news for some of the interns affected by to COVID-19 pandemic is that they can work remotely to finish various projects. Working remotely will not only allow them to gain experience but to earn needed money in an uncertain time. However, that is the best-case scenario and more questions than answers have been presented by the work stoppage.

While COVID-19 has halted my education for the time being, my internship has allowed me the option to stay and work from home to prevent the spread of this virus which is a beneficial option during this time of crisis.

Rebecca Amorim, a Parasport Ontario Program Assistant

Many students were anticipating the finish of their education this spring and entering the workforce in some capacity. The chances of joining the workforce in a few months’ time has now been thrown into chaos. Only two months ago, the COVID-19 virus was considered a far-off issue that few individuals expected to impact their lives. Now, just weeks after the first Canadian citizen was diagnosed with COVID-19 (Vancouver Coastal resident who had visited Wuhan in January and recovered from the illness in February) the outbreaks of coronavirus continue in Canada.

Perhaps the worst part of the COVID-19 outbreak is not the illness, but the aftermath of individuals hit by financial hardship could be the longest lasting effects of the pandemic. As it stands, the entire world is set to face economic hardships due to work stoppages and self-isolation. Unfortunately for the students and affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, they fear they could become a lost generation in the workforce.

There is a bright side to the COVID-19 pandemic for those students who can find it. The outbreak of the virus shows that anything can happen in life as in sports. Brier Barclay, a School Programs Coordinator Intern with the Special Olympics Ontario is finding ways to work around the problems set forth by the COVID-19 epidemic and understand there are things she cannot control.

Both my internship and schooling have moved to a work from home or online platform. This allows us to still gain experience but through a different work environment. Since my internship revolves around high schools, COVID-19 combined with the job action strike has really allowed me to see that some factors you cannot control in event management, but you have to find ways to work around them.

Brier Barclay, School Programs Coordinator Intern With Special Olympics Ontario

The end result of the epidemic for students could be a positive one. Rather than dwell on the unknown and focus on their internships not being the fullest experiences they were hoped to be, students are making the best of an unprecedented situation.

Our Final Thoughts

Internships are a huge reason you decided to get an education in sport. We get how you feel that your internship isn’t matching up to what you expected of it. It’s certainly a unique time for everyone in the world. Just remember, every person, business and industry in the world are impacted by the global pandemic. But you can remain resilient by using this time to work on some hard or soft skills, to increase your productivity, to direct your mindset in a positive way. Look no further than Hayley Michie’s article on 10 essential tips for using isolation to gain an edge in the sport industry. It is important to stay positive, stay resilient and make the best out of working from home and the opportunities that will come in time.