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COVID-19 pandemic forces Durham College journalism students to create own internship

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WATCH: A group of Durham College students had their internships cancelled or postponed. That has some of them in the journalism program using creative means to fulfill the requirements to graduate on time. Aaron Streck reports.

A group of Durham College students have seen their internships cancelled or postponed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

That has some of them using creative means to fulfill the requirements to graduate on time.

“It’s kind of disheartening to know that my future’s on hold,” said Tracey Bowers-Lee, a journalism student at Durham College.

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Working from her kitchen isn’t where Tracey Bowers-Lee envisioned she’d be doing her internship.

The 43-year-old was supposed to be learning the ins and outs of the journalism industry at a local online magazine, but that internship was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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“A tumbleweed going down a hill, collecting us one at a time, diminishing our dreams,” said Bowers-Lee, describing the pandemic’s effects on students.

But in order to graduate from her program at Durham College, she and her classmates still need to complete an internship — so the six of them created COVID-Cation Podcast.

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“We built our own website, we’re doing social media, we’re recording, we’re interviewing, we’re writing stories, we’re posting them, we have schedules we have to keep — it’s a great experience,” said Bowers-Lee.

“I wanted to get into audio anyways, so with doing a podcast is exactly where I wanted to be and being able to do it with my colleagues, I think we all bring something different to the table,” said Tara Sottile, a fellow journalism student at Durham College.

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The goal was to do a seven-part podcast series to cover the seven-week internship, but they’ve stretched that to nine. And each week has a theme.

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“This week we’re working on front lines,” said Bowers-Lee.

In the podcast, they’re touching on everything from health care to education and bringing stories to the forefront for students.

“Instead of feeling sorry for themselves, the fact that they’ve been able to come up with their own idea and recognize that they want to develop their skills across many platforms and to make that happen, I couldn’t be more proud of the work that they’re doing,” said Brian Legree, journalism-mass media coordinator with Durham College.

The whole project, of course, allows Tracey Bowers-Lee to tell stories, which is what drew her to journalism in the first place.

“I think the best stories are people stories, people that you don’t know,” said Bowers-Lee.

No one really knows just how long this pandemic will last, but those in the Durham College journalism program are hopeful that what they’re learning now will take them — and COVID-Cation — to the next level.

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