By Carolyn M. Becker, Director, Education Abroad
Texas Woman’s University senior Mary Ridenour was weeks away from departing on a summer long international internship in Mérida, Mexico, when the coronavirus disrupted her plans. As a health studies major, she was required to complete an internship prior to graduation. While many students complete this requirement locally, Ridenour had developed a relationship with Fundación Bai, a non-profit organization dedicated to decrease the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STI’s), and decrease teenage pregnancy rates in the Yucatán.
“I was ready to begin my international internship in Mexico, but when coronavirus (COVID-19) had become a pandemic crisis, it impacted not just my plans but for others,” Ridenour said.
The onset of the global pandemic required students, internship sites, and academic departments to quickly pivot plans. TWU health studies majors offered an online internship course to help students complete their degree requirements and stay on track for graduation. Ridenour opted to enroll in this course and was able to graduate in August. Ridenour is now facing another challenge-searching for a job in an evolving landscape.
“One hurdle of the job search is overcoming mental thoughts of why I am not getting any callbacks from jobs I have applied for,” Ridenour expressed. After countless applications, she was able to secure an interview. However, she quickly discovered the reality of job scams. “I had one interview offer that I was very skeptical about from the beginning. The first thing I noticed was the address had not spelled the corporation all out. Additionally, there was no logo included in the email. I was able to do my own investigation of this company, and soon came to find out it was a business consultant corporation that had changed its name twice.” Ridenour ultimately did not pursue this interview.
“This [job scam] experience is not something you learn about in school or is talked about,” Ridenour said. Now, she wants to bring awareness to other new graduates. “Always be cautious in looking for a job during times like these where there can be scams. It is important to investigate whoever you are going to have an interview with. The Better Business Bureau is a great resource to learn more information about a business, its history, and any other claims about a company.”
While Ridenour is continuing to find gainful employment, she remains optimistic. Her advice to her peers experiencing the same struggles is earnest “Do not give up. Keep applying. If you still can not find a job, seek help from your school to give you any tips. In the end, just do not give up. I truly believe that you will land a job just at the right time.”