Students Continue to Work

Marquette+sophomore+Molly+Sullivan+works+at+an+outdoor+theater+in+McHenry%2C+IL+during+the+summer+of+2020.

Photo by Zach Bukowski

Marquette sophomore Molly Sullivan works at an outdoor theater in McHenry, IL during the summer of 2020.

With COVID-19 causing quarantine and lockdowns across the country, many Marquette students found their summer jobs and internships canceled. 

Alexandra Solecki, a senior in the College of Engineering, was offered an internship at Pentair, a water solutions company, for the summer. However, she found out it was canceled in May. Solecki, who studies mechanical engineering, says the internship would have offered her valuable experience.

“I would have been working alongside a mechanical engineer in helping redesign and analyze systems the company used to improve filtration devices,” Solecki says in an email. “It would have been a combination of walking the floor of the manufacturing plant and learning to recognize areas for improvement, as well as doing office work and assisting the lead engineers.”

Solecki says she was contacted by Pentair HR in the first week of May to let her know the job had been canceled.

“One by one all my friend’s jobs were dropping like flies as soon as companies realized the economic and logistical toll they were going to be facing,” Solecki says.

Jaileen Diaz — a 2020 alumna who graduated in May — said she had an internship at the Wisconsin Governor’s Office which was canceled in late March.

As a pre-law student, Diaz says she assisted constituents or Wisconsin citizens who contacted the office in need of any information. She also handled Department of Corrections concerns and even had the opportunity to attend an event with Tony Evers at Northwestern Mutual regarding economic development in Milwaukee.

When she found out, Diaz says she was “extremely bummed out.” However, she says she was expecting the cancellation because of Governor Tony Evers’ stay at home order which took place in late March.

Yuliana Ruiz Marquez — a 2020 alumna who graduated in May — says she had both a job and an internship before the coronavirus pandemic, both of which she intended to continue in the summer. She was a receptionist and interpreter at CORE/El Centro, a nonprofit organization that offers natural healing and wellness services. She had an internship with Legal Action of Wisconsin, a non-profit law firm providing services for low-income individuals.

Both were canceled in March, Marquez says.

“I was disappointed but hopeful that things would be back to normal and assume by end of April,” Marquez says. “I quickly realized that wouldn’t be the case. It was devastating to lose the only source of income … I was also disappointed to leave my internship since I had been with Legal Action of Wisconsin since the beginning of the fall semester.” 

Marquez says she was hoping to gain legal experience before attending law school at the University of Wisconsin in the fall.

Francisca Klebba, a junior in the College of Engineering, had an internship lined up for the summer in which she would be working to create vaccines to cure cancer at the immunology lab at Loyola University. 

Klebba says it was “iffy when everything first shut down if the internship would still go on.” Her internship was officially canceled in March. 

She says she was asked to be an unpaid volunteer when the internship was canceled, but she decided not to do it, as she would have had no chance to do lab work. 

As the coronavirus outbreak grew, Klebba says she expected the internship to be canceled. Still, she says she was “a little sad because I had secured the internship a year ago. I had been looking forward to it for an entire year.”

Ultimately, Klebba says it made sense because the internship would not have been safe with COVID-19. 

Diaz says her internship recently started back up in a virtual setting.

“We work on coding emails that are sent to the governor’s office,” she says. “Also, we help individuals who are having a hard time receiving unemployment. We communicate with the workers in the Department of Workforce Development. They then contact the individual seeking help.”

Diaz says she will continue this internship until she graduates in the spring, but she is unsure if it will be able to continue in person.

Marquez says after her job and internship were canceled, she couldn’t try to find a different job because she moved back home with a high risk family member. However, she says she still keeps in touch with both her job and internship for future opportunities.

“I recently started working reduced hours from home for CORE since we opened back up, and my internship supervisor and I are trying to figure out a plan for me to continue the internship in some form as well,” she says. “Unfortunately, I have limited resources at home so it’s been difficult.”

Klebba decided to take the summer off since her internship was canceled. She says all medical field jobs and volunteer positions are closed or suspended — she wasn’t even be able to volunteer at a hospital. Klebba says she hopes to do an internship next year.

After her internship was canceled, Solecki says she “tried like crazy” to get a different job.

“I scoured the internet applying to any remote position I could find, only to find out later that most of those positions had been canceled anyways but just never taken off the website,” she says.

After searching, Solecki says she finally found a small job working for a professor in the College of Engineering. She helps make solution manuals for exercises in SOLIDWORKS — a graphic modeling software.

“I feel so grateful to have something to do, and it’s even something I might be able to put on my resume,” she says. 

Solecki says she may or may not got back to Pentair.

“While it was obviously disappointing, I do believe in ‘when one door closes’ mentality,” she says. “Maybe not being locked into anything this summer will end up helping me look for something more meaningful or interesting next year.” 

This story was written by Matthew Choate. He can be reached at matthew.choate@marquette.edu.