When our job offers for our final work terms this summer were rescinded in the wake of COVID-19, we had no idea that we would end up working on the very issue that had hindered our plans.
We are both fourth year bachelor of commerce students in the Faculty of Business Administration. We both had work terms lined up to begin this past May in our respective fields of finance and marketing.
However, as COVID-19 cases ramped up mid-March, we got the unfortunate news that our employers could not proceed with our job offers amidst business lulls, layoffs and shifts to working from home.
Into the unknown
We quickly began the challenging process of applying for new remote work terms.
The faculty knew how hard it would be to find positions at this time, so they reached out to professors and the greater business community to develop positions.
One in particular sparked our interest: To develop recommendations to help local businesses mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 in order to survive post-pandemic. We applied, interviewed for the positions and were hired all in the span of one week.
The possibility of helping our business community seemed meaningful to us as we are both on track to graduate next year.
Interestingly, we learned soon after that the work term concept was the idea of a very generous donor – a commerce alumnus who wishes to remain anonymous – who offered to sponsor us for the summer in exchange for coming up with “outside-the-box” solutions.
With the help of our work-term supervisor, Dr. Peggy Coady, we started brainstorming ideas and decided to narrow our scope down to one specific industry.
An entirely new learning experience
Right from the start, we both thought the hospitality industry needed the most help.
At the time, restaurants were only open for delivery, and hotels were mostly vacant. Many businesses in the hospitality sector in St. John’s are small businesses that are locally owned and operated.
We decided to focus our recommendations on these businesses. We began by analyzing historical pandemic patterns, researching economic conditions and closely following the ever-changing COVID-19 regulations.
Once we developed implementation plans, we consulted with local organizations. We hosted presentations for Destination St. John’s and the St. John’s Board of Trade where we took constructive feedback and made changes.
Our ideas were well-received, and we hope that we have inspired these organizations to expand on our solutions in the future and fully implement them.
Although our business solutions are largely conceptual, the real value has come in what we have learned. This work term has challenged us to put our heads together and acquire skills in areas of business that we would never have been exposed to otherwise on a typical work term.
We expanded our research, teamwork, time-management and problem-solving skills. Plus, we got to be a part of the work from home period.
Preparing for the future
As we transition into our final year of the commerce program and approach graduation next spring, we feel as though our accomplishments this summer have made us grow into well-rounded business people who are ready to tackle any issue.
Our experience proves that opportunities can be created in any place, even in the midst of a global pandemic.
Also, this work term has given us an appreciation for the importance of giving back to the Faculty of Business Administration, as without the support of the donor who sponsored our work terms, this opportunity would never have happened.