Last week, I graduated from Fordham University from my parents’ living room. This week, I’m finishing up my final week as an intern with Momentum — also from my parents’ living room. If you had told me any of this at the beginning of 2020, I would have thought you were crazy.

I never anticipated a global pandemic essentially canceling my college graduation and forcing my internship to go fully remote. And I definitely never anticipated the tragic impacts on global health and lives this crisis has caused. Even so, the optimist in me has noticed an inspiring resilience, strength, and care throughout the global community — and my own.

Despite the loss and uncertainty about the future, this crisis has taught me a great deal that I know will be useful for years to come. As I wrap up my last week as an intern for Momentum, I’d like to share a handful of lessons I’ve learned:

Never underestimate the power of gratitude. While many communities and individuals have been devastated by this crisis, I recognize how fortunate I’ve been to be safe at home, with every resource needed to successfully complete my coursework and work for Momentum online. I’ve learned so much from this opportunity, and it’s been amazing to see how much a small but mighty team can accomplish in even the worst of circumstances. The work Momentum has done with our clients, many of whom work directly with populations that have been most impacted during this time, is inspiring, and I’m grateful I had the opportunity to be a part of it. When you’re grateful for the opportunities you have, it’s difficult to be caught up in the sadness for the ones you missed.

Adaptability. When I got the email that the rest of the semester was essentially cancelled, it felt like a rug had been pulled out from under me. Things changed by the hour as this pandemic progressed, and it seemed as though once you adjusted to one change, another one was right around the corner. Albeit frustrating, this has taught me firsthand how to improvise, adapt, and to meet yourself where you’re at — both in the context of public relations work and in life. It’s not always ideal, but it’s possible. As disorienting as this time of change and uncertainty has been, I’m not sure what could come along that I wouldn’t be able to adjust to. It’s a lesson of human resilience for all of us. 

The importance of strong connections. Something I took for granted in pre-pandemic times was the ease with which I was able to connect with people. Everything happened so naturally and automatically. The increased effort it takes to stay connected in these times has made me realize just how important these relationships are. From social calls with friends, to Blackboard discussions for class, to weekly staff Zoom meetings, something that has stood out to me is the tremendous empathy, solidarity, and mutual support shown by everyone. These are things that we should keep with us, even as this crisis comes to pass. 

The value in slowing down. The stay at home order radically emptied my schedule, offering me a new way to look at time. Our fast-paced culture seems to encourage a view of time as something we efficiently and constantly utilize rather than simply exist within. Between classes, work, and social life, it often felt like I had no time to myself to reflect or think. This crisis has offered me a chance to slow down and be more present in my daily life.

Being a college senior and an intern during this crazy time has certainly been strange, but also enlightening. As I begin the next chapter of my life, I plan to take these lessons and qualities of strength and resilience with me in all my professional and personal ventures, well after this crisis has passed. I encourage everyone to do the same as we all continue to navigate the months ahead.