By Shradha Parekh
As a Communications & Public Information intern for The City of Dublin this semester, as well as a college senior, I have gotten the opportunity to gain experience in so many factions of local government, including how to address a large city during a global pandemic! I can truly say this is not what I was originally expecting when I began the last semester of my undergraduate career. I was expecting to finish my coursework on a high note, enjoy time with my friends before many of them made plans to move across the country, and walk across the stage in May surrounded by the people that I started this journey with. Additionally, I was actively job searching, securing housing for the upcoming year, and making graduation plans. Even though COVID-19 has made many of the difficult things about senior year of college even more stressful, it has also given me the time to reflect on the things that are still making my final chapter of college a success.
While my classes and work responsibilities shifted from in-person to online and everyone around me was instructed to stay inside, I was struggling to see the bright side. However, I began to realize that despite the uncertainty I was facing, this semester in a pandemic will do more to prepare me for my next stage in life than all my years in college combined. As classes increased in difficulty and many employers began implementing hiring freezes, I reminded myself that learning to adapt to significant changes in plans was a skill that will be extremely valuable in my future roles. Even when my personal plans were canceled, such as walking at commencement and hosting my graduation party, I was able to accept those losses and creatively problem solve by throwing a virtual party with my friends and family. While navigating the technical challenges that come with working from home, such as coordinating work and class video calls with my roommate to keep from overloading our already spotty Wi-Fi, I was practicing multi-tasking and working in environments that are not always free of distractions. When I realized that I had nowhere to work in my apartment since I typically went to libraries or cafes before the shutdown, I assessed my resources and converted my crowded makeup desk into a full productivity corner. Instead of overthinking and stressing about not being able to see family members who are healthcare workers or immunocompromised, I have been able to learn the importance of staying focused on the things that I can control and recognizing when to reach out to others.
With my internship at The City of Dublin, I am so grateful to continue to gain real-life experience, especially during a time like this when so much is unknown. I have been able to work on projects that are being implemented in the community and have gotten the chance to interact first-hand with concerned residents. These last few weeks have truly been a rollercoaster of emotion, productivity, priorities, and community as we all learn to navigate this new normal. As a future public servant, I am grateful for these experiences that will help me in my career moving forward and allow me to best serve others.