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Cristina Guerrero

RST senior Cristina Guerrero 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. Cristina Guerrero was supposed to work in the special events department of the Cincinnati Art Museum, 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. She talked to AHS communications about her experience working for the NBA's Oklahoma City Thunder and Niagara Falls.

Q: How are your experiences different from what you expected?

A: Overall, I don’t think this internship experience would be that much different than many internship experiences. While there is not in-person interactions, we are still working very collaboratively with our peers and the RST professionals. However, since there are been so much change in every aspect of our lives, this change in internship adds to that difference. 

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

A: My original internship was in special events. So no, I am not doing anything that I originally planned. 

Q: Does your internship lead you to think about a different career path?

A: No, so far this internship has not changed my aspiring career goals. 

Q: What happened to your original internship?

A: My original internship was with the special events department of the Cincinnati Art Museum. The program has not been officially canceled yet, but has been postponed with no new start date. 

Q: Are you working remotely?

A: Yes, I am working remotely. I am back home in Denver. 

Q: Has anything been frustrating about your change in internship status?

A: I am very grateful for the IRUC internship and it has been a great experience. However, it was frustrating having to change all my plans for the summer and fall semester. 

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

A: Yes, even though we are working in teams and trying to be as collaborative as possible. Working remotely rather than face-to-face makes your work much more independent. 

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

A: My advice for anyone who is having difficulty with finding an internship or changes to their internship is to take what you can get. It might not be exactly what you're are hoping for, but any experience is really important. And you’ll always be able to apply the experience you gained to other jobs/internships. 

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

A: COVID-19 has affected my future plans quite a bit—I was supposed to study aboard in the fall as my last semester, however that was canceled. I decided to drop my Spanish minor and graduate in August rather than December. So I’m graduating a lot sooner than I was expecting and have no job prospect, which has been stressful. But other than that, I’ve been pretty lucky—I went home during spring break and have been home since. I haven’t traveled anywhere (expect to move out of my apartment in Champaign), but since I’m home in Colorado I’ve spent a lot of time in the mountains hiking and camping. 

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