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RST senior Alex Yi talks about alternate internship in wake of COVID-19

Students in the Department of Recreation, Sport and Tourism in the College of Applied Health Sciences at the University of Illinois have had to adjust their internships because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Periodically, we will speak with them about how those changes have affected their summer plans and potentially career paths. Alex Yi was supposed to work at a law firm, but instead was part of the inaugural Illini RST Undergraduate Consulting (IRUC) program, created by RST department head Carla Santos and clinical assistant professor Mike Raycraft. He talked to AHS communications about his experience working for the NBA's Oklahoma City Thunder and The Specialized Marketing Group.

How are your experiences different from what you expected?

My experience is exactly as I expected. Even though it is my first time participating in a remote internship, I had a good idea of how the internship would proceed. 

Are you doing something for your internship than what you originally planned?

Before COVID-19, I was expected to intern at a law firm. The internship I am doing right now does not lead me to think about a different career path because I have always wanted to partake in an internship like this. 

Has anything been frustrating about your change in internship status?

Nothing has been frustrating about the change in internship status because this internship is also extremely beneficial for me and helped me create a strong network for myself. I have always wanted to be in a position to network, but just never had the opportunity, so this internship is excellent in that sense. 

What are you missing out on because of the pandemic, in terms of working face-to-face with people?

Working with people face to face is definitely the ideal way of getting things accomplished, but in the sports field, I think that people must be able to adapt to any and every situation possible in order to make things work. So, working with other people through video chat is a good experience to have because I will definitely have to do work through video chat or online again. 

What advice do you have for future students who might have disrupted internships?

The best advice I can give other students who might have disrupted internships is to constantly try finding opportunities to connect with other people. Working and having an internship experience is extremely important, but knowing a lot of people within your field of work can sometimes be your best weapon or tool when finding an internship/job opportunity. 

What other ways has COVID-19 affected you? Have you traveled? Have you been able to go home, see family?

I have been stuck on campus not being able to go home because of COVID-19, but this is still a good experience for me because this time period is teaching me to adjust to unexpected situations.

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