By Mimi Wright
A lot has changed since the beginning of my last semester of college. I followed the Covid-19 epidemic in China very closely at the onset of the reporting about what was then a mysterious illness.
Never in my wildest dreams did I think that this illness would intrude into every aspect of American lives. I thought maybe there would be a few hot spots here and there, with all of the international travel that happens nowadays. But I underestimated, as I think most people did, the extent to which this novel disease would impact our lives.
As my classes transitioned online, I still had not fully grasped what this meant for me after graduation. I thought maybe the restrictions that were slowly, too slowly, implemented would possibly slow the spread of the virus. But as days turned into weeks, and then weeks into months, it began to settle in what this virus meant for my life and my future.
The largest concern at the forefront of my mind was my internship that I had secured in New York City, where I planned to move immediately after graduation. Many of my peers had internships cancelled, job offers rescinded and plenty of other tough rejections that abruptly shoved us into the adult world, which we now know can be cruel and unforgiving.
I checked my email obsessively over this period of time, praying that a message in my inbox did not appear, notifying me of the internship’s cancellation. Thankfully, the company decided to move all interns into a remote position, but most importantly, they wanted to go through with the paid internships.
I can’t even begin to express the relief and gratitude that flooded through my body when it was decided my internship was still on. I know I am one of the lucky ones, especially with all of the job loss currently hitting families across America.
I am also lucky to have a home, a safe one, that I was able to return to once our college campus closed down. I am lucky both of my parents have the ability to work from home, and their jobs afford them some flexibility with hours. I am lucky that I have plenty of food to eat and a comfortable room in which to sleep.
For me, staying at home during my internship will ease the financial burden of starting out on my own. I can save every penny of what I earn, which is a privilege I take for granted.
It’s bittersweet: I’m saving money while I know millions of families are struggling to make ends meet. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the April 2020 unemployment rate is 14.7, which is 11.1 percentage points higher than April the year before.
Feeding America estimated in late April that the pandemic could increase the number of hungry children to 18 million. These numbers are staggering and extremely troubling. Although I donated to a local food assistance program, I know my contribution won’t make a dent in the vast need of so many.
With student loans to pay off and initial expenses to account for, my savings are probably meager in the long run. But while I save, millions can’t, and it’s hard not to feel extremely guilty about my circumstances.
Mimi Wright graduated in May with a journalism degree. She’s interning for a travel website.