UNC Chapel Hill student’s international internship plans halted by COVID-19

From the WRBL Internship Assignment Desk

This story was produced as part of the WRBL 2020 Summer Intern program

(University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill student Alli McClure was one of many affected by COVID-19. Photocred: Sarah Gray Barr)

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WRBL) – COVID-19 outbreaks dramatically altered the spring semesters for college students across the nation and the virus continues to exert its effects on summer plans. Opportunities for jobs, internships, and in-person college summer classes cease to exist as businesses and universities try to protect students from the virus.

From left to right: Sandy Song, Kristen Keeler, Baylee Jones, and Alli McClure. McClure is a biology and chemistry major, she currently plans on working in genetic research. Photocred: Sandy Song

One student, Alli McClure, a junior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, had an internship but was unable to find transport due to visa issues and increased airline regulations as a direct result of coronavirus.

McClure, a biology and chemistry major, originally planned to spend her summer abroad in Germany, working at a hospital. She received an internship at Klinik Schillerhöhe in Gerlingen, but was unable to obtain a visa from the U.S. embassy due to coronavirus closures.

“I got an internship at one of the hospitals in Germany in Stuttgart where I’d be working on nursing and shadowing [doctors]. But because I’d be in Germany for over a month, I didn’t want to go without a visa because I felt like that would be a little risky. So, I contacted the embassy, and they said I could go during spring break to Atlanta to get my visa. But spring break was when corona started happening and everything was cancelled, so I couldn’t get my visa,” McClure said.

Now, McClure is taking online physics classes at her home in Charlotte, N.C. She planned to take one class on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus and then travel to Germany for the internship. The UNC-CH administration made the decision to cancel in-person classes and transition to all online classes in an effort to maintain social-distance and protect the students. 

“I feel that the decision the school made wasn’t a good one, but I feel it was the best one they could have made in the specific circumstances,” McClure said. “I don’t think there was a better option. I mean, this option doesn’t work for certain classes that cannot be taken online.”

McClure and her boyfriend, Alex Wesenberg, visit Berlin, Germany. McClure hopes to go back this summer to visit friends. Photocred: Alli McClure

Despite the setbacks, McClure still hopes that she will be able to visit Germany at some point during the summer. On the eighth of every month, the EU decides whether or not they will extend lockdown. Although McClure would not be able to participate in her internship, she still wants to go to Germany to visit friends and practice her German.

“So I was hoping if the lockdown wasn’t extended, I’d be able to go and continue to my internship. But at this point, the lockdown is until June 15, I wouldn’t have been able to do my internship anyways. So now I’m hoping to see if I can just go if it’s opened by June 15 for the rest of the summer just to go,” McClure said.

Even though she may not be able to go to Germany and her classes were switched to an online format, McClure is trying to make the best of the COVID-19 situation. One unexpected benefit is that her online classes offer her more flexibility than an on-campus class would.

McClure is now taking two summer physics classes online through UNC-Chapel Hill. Photocred: Sarah Gray Barr

“While I would rather have been able to do all my summer plans, it’s kind of nice that I have my online classes. Because they’re now online, I get to spend more time with my family. I get to see my friends. I’ll be able to do things this summer like go to the beach and take physics. If I took classes on campus, I wouldn’t have these same opportunities.”

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