A conversation with our interns: Eva & Aurélie

For the last couple of weeks we’ve been investigating the impact of the Corona crisis on various industries by interviewing some of our peers. More specifically, those who have already established a solid career. However, we are keen to know how people who are just about to start their professional trajectory are coping with all of this. Enter: Eva Vranken & Aurélie Demaeseneer. Our two bright interns whose internship didn’t go exactly as planned. We had al little chat about how they’re experiencing the lockdown and what their thoughts are on the future.

Hi Eva and Aurélie! What were your first reactions when you heard about the lockdown?

Eva: “What the hell is this?! We’re writing history.” It’s a situation like no other. I admit I was really naive in the beginning, thinking it would be over pretty quickly. However, we’re not going back to normal any time soon.

Aurélie: First, I was relieved I didn’t have to go to school anymore. It was only later I realised it might stand in the way of my internship. I took me some time to understand how bad the situation was, and I did question if people were going to stick to the restrictions.

Did you expect you would still be able to do your internship?

Eva: I did actually, there was never a moment of doubt about continuing my internship at Indiandribble, since there’s always plenty of work. Crisis or not. I was already two weeks into my internship when the lockdown was announced, so I was fortunate to have met all the colleagues and get a taste of the office environment.

Aurélie: I wasn’t sure what to expect, since the events sector got hit so badly. Some classmates received the news that their internship got cancelled or postponed.

Could you elaborate on some of the experiences of your classmates during this crisis?

Eva: In my class, there are a lot of students who are currently without an internship. You do hear some horror stories as well. My good friend is doing her internship at a big company alongside 10 other interns. When the general lockdown was announced, all of their employees were put under ‘technical unemployment’. My friend and the other interns now have to take over their work, and even work harder to get it all done. It’s so absurd how some people are getting their profits out of this situation.

Aurélie: I was worried for my friends who were doing their internships abroad. One was able to be retrieved from Tenerife in Spain. My other friend decided to stay in Costa Rica, because the chance of getting infected on the journey back home was too high. That’s really scary.

How did the school communicate about this lockdown and the potential consequences?

Eva: Very chaotic. Sorry UCLL, but your communication could use some work. My inbox got flooded with emails, but since my internship continued as planned I didn’t really panic about those emails. In all honesty, I didn’t even read all of them, haha.

Aurélie: All students panicked a bit, but we also realised that this was a very difficult situation for the Erasmushogeschool as well. They quickly decided to close all campuses and to give classes from a distance. We stayed in touch via email and they created a website where they answered all students questions about Covid-19. They also contacted all the internships to hear if they could continue offering it or not. So, they really took their time to analyse each student’s situation and help everyone the best they could.

How do you feel your school is handling this crisis?

Eva: They hope they can continue classes staring from May 18th, but I’m pretty sure that won’t be possible. Maybe, they’ll be able to offer some small practical classes to smaller groups. The exams will go on as planned, only these will be spread over multiple days, so they can create smaller groups and leave the needed space between each student.

Aurélie: It’s a bit chaotic really. Some teachers really try their best, others don’t. We’re all patiently waiting on the verdict of the decisions on future classes and exams.

Do you think there’s a future in ‘virtual classes’? In some cases, it’s quite successful.

Eva: Perhaps for universities, yes. Since students don’t always attend the classes, and most of them are recorded anyways. For more practical courses, I think it would be more difficult since you have to be present. Also, I don’t know how it will work when you have to give presentations.

Aurélie: I don’t think it’s the future. When students actually go to school it’s easier for them to follow the classes and ask questions. For the lecturers, it’s also better to have real students in front of them so they can feel where the difficulties lay. It shows the motivation from both student and teacher, and how much we appreciate everyone coming to school.

How are you experiencing your internship during these circumstances?

Eva: This is actually my first internship ever and I couldn’t be happier! Honestly, I feel very lucky that there’s always enough and interesting work. Especially since a lot of students are complaining they’re only allowed to do administrative tasks. The only downside is that I won’t be able to attend the events we’re organising at the moment. We had to postpone a lot due to the crisis and I won’t be able to attend them since my internship will already be done by then. But all things considered, I have already learned a lot. More than I ever thought!

Aurélie: It’s obviously a very special situation. I still haven’t met my colleagues (in real life), expect for our daily virtual encounters. I was afraid for not being able to integrate as well as I would being physically present, but I already feel part of the group.

It is indeed a very special internship that you won’t forget easily. What are some moments that stand out for you?

Eva: All the calls, sometimes even 5 a day and I’m just an intern you know! Sometimes there are days where you go from one virtual meeting to another. Other times you’re so focused and working non-stop, you don’t even say a word since there’s nobody to talk to. This would never happen at the office!

Aurélie: Our Friday Cocktail Hour! I’m sure it’s more enjoyable physically, but through the webcam it does have its charm as well. I’m also sure that before the lockdown my colleagues never played virtual Pictionary, but now they do.

Which of the measurement do you find most difficult to deal with?

Eva: No Chiro! I hate it so much. For almost 16 years I can’t wait to go every Sunday. To now hear our camp might not even happen is heartbreaking.

Aurélie: It really sounds cliché, but I do miss my boyfriend. He lives far away and I wouldn’t be able to visit him without getting a fine. I’m really worried of getting sick myself and infecting others.

Now that the school year is almost finishing up, we’re also looking at new registrations and a new academic school year. What would you propose to make the fresh start as smooth as possible, regarding social distancing and perhaps the reality that not everything will be back to normal by then.

Eva: I do believe it’s important to reopen the campus. I hear from my friends that they don’t feel any pressure at all since they can’t go to classes. If you have to go to school, you automatically become more invested than just staying home. So, I suggest to split up classes, so everyone can take a seat whilst still respecting the social distancing rules.

Aurélie: I propose to only give the main subjects on campus. Other small classes like language courses can be given from a distance. They could also eventually make the classes smaller. I remember sometimes sitting with 80 people in one space, if they can limit this to 40 it will already make a big difference. By giving other classes from a distance, they will have time to divide the classes.

Thanks girls, and best of luck with the rest of the internship!