Grit

At a Crossroads: How I Adjusted and Changed My Plans During the Pandemic

After some massive blows – the semester’s abrupt end, the cancellation of my summer internship, and the indefinite postponement of study abroad due to the pandemic – there were days when I could barely get out of bed because I just did not have the energy to get any work done. Feeling discouraged was an understatement. But I knew I had to start looking for opportunities again.

By Eesha Kashif ’21, MBA ’22

There have been times in the past year where I felt numb to my surroundings. Not the kind of numbness that happens after getting anesthesia during a surgery, but a kind of uneasiness that showed me how uncertain and unstable my future looked.

In March 2020, as campus closed and Clark University moved to online instruction, I was unprepared for the numerous challenges ahead. I fielded continuous calls from my frantic parents, who wanted me to take the next flight back to Pakistan. And my friends on campus could offer little help. I felt stuck and confused. As an international student, I could not go back to my home country because staying outside the United States for longer than a certain period could have affected my student visa status – a risk that I did not wish to take. I decided to stay at Clark for the semester and summer, which required me to move residence buildings and figure out storage space while online classes were in session. Once the dining hall closed, my sister, also a Clark student, and I had to experiment with grocery shopping and cooking on our own, chores that neither of us had prior experience with. While we struggled to regulate our living expenses and adjust to online learning, we both also worked full-time jobs on campus to maintain our income through the end of spring semester.

Despite all of this personal upheaval, it was my career plans that took the biggest hit. Before the pandemic, I had secured an internship for summer 2020 at the United Nations headquarters in New York City. I also applied and was accepted to the fall 2020 CAPA London program, which offered me an internship in my field of interest and a semester living abroad in the heart of London during the fall of my senior year. But as COVID-19 continued to spread, Clark University canceled all study abroad programs until further notice. While I was still processing that fact, I received an email informing me that my summer internship I at the UN was also canceled. After these massive blows – the semester’s abrupt end, the cancellation of my summer internship, and the indefinite postponement of study abroad – there were days when I could barely get out of bed because I just did not have the energy to get any work done. Feeling discouraged was an understatement.

But I knew I had to start looking for opportunities again and eventually got some valuable work experience over the pandemic summer interning with a Clark alum. Realizing that the job market could be unsteady for the near future, I began to contemplate an option I previously had never considered: I applied to Clark’s Accelerated Degree Program. I got accepted to the program for 2021-2022 and shifted my plans to receive my Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree with a concentration in finance  before I exposing myself to the job market.

It is now May of 2021 and I am finishing up my senior year at Clark. Next year I will return to campus for the final coursework of my MBA, something I never expected but now look forward to. Despite having encountered huge setbacks and sudden changes in my career plans, the last year has taught me to be resilient, receptive to new opportunities, and always keep going no matter how difficult the circumstances.

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