When a pandemic happens during placement

When my professor asked me to call her, my body filled with nervous energy. I knew in the back of my mind what she would say, but my head was filled with denial. The last two years of school was a buildup to the real-world experience. For me, that was working at a big Canadian […]

When my professor asked me to call her, my body filled with nervous energy. I knew in the back of my mind what she would say, but my head was filled with denial.

The last two years of school was a buildup to the real-world experience. For me, that was working at a big Canadian media company. All the years of learning journalism, reading and watching politics had brought me to this moment.

But like many students at Algonquin, my placement ended early because of the novel-coronavirus outbreak. It was hard not to feel selfish for being upset when people are sick and dying around the world.

I could not turn off the news all week — watching intently as I hoped things would turn around and I could back. That never happened.

Nothing at school had prepared me to deal with a pandemic during placement. There was not a class or lesson on what to do in this situation.

But I could not help but wonder how Algonquin was planning to replicate the experience I could gain from placement — an invaluable experience that would allow me to make connections in the field and gain new skills.

Working at my placement would also have helped me to potentially gain employment after graduation. The Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario, which is a government agency that researches ways to continuously improve Ontario’s postsecondary education system, even said so in a 2012 report. In that report, titled Integrated Learning and Post Secondary Graduates: The Perspective of Ontario Employers, the council says participation in placements is associated with a greater likelihood of securing full-time employment.

According to the World Health Organization, there are 416,686 confirmed cases of the virus and 18,589 confirmed deaths. When I put those numbers into perspective, the decision by Algonquin to suspend my placement is not the end of the world. Families have had to say goodbye to loved ones, while others work to recover from the virus.

As sad as I am not to be on placement, though, it has given me time to reflect on a few things, like the important role journalism plays when faced with something like the novel-coronavirus. We are a source for the public to find out what is going on, and not having my placement anymore does not mean I still cannot do my job as a journalist and be that conduit of critical information to the public.

My current placement has brought me back to where it all started with the Algonquin Times. This alternative has still allowed to serve my duty as a journalist, and that is all I could ever ask for.

One part of my life might be on hold for now, but at least I still have my health and my family — and for that I am grateful. As I try to see the positive in dark times, I remind myself that this is not the end of my career. It is only temporary.

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