May 20, 2020 msuproductions
Celina Mazon

Student Experience During COVID-19 and the Workplace

By Celina Mazon

During my 2020 spring semester, I had the pleasure of joining Montclair State University’s student-led Public Relations agency, Hawk Communications. Before joining Hawk Communications, I did not have much experience working for clients. Meeting with our clients and getting to know their wants and needs was the first step with my personal experience with public relations work.

I found myself invested in NJ Warriors and Autism MVP. These two organizations were all about giving back and helping others, which allowed me to instantly know they were the best fit for me. After communicating via phone and email with these organizations, my teams decided we would work together to assist with outreach, as both were seeking sponsors/donors and inclusion within the community.

Everything was running smoothly until we had to switch to online courses due to COVID-19. This crisis restricted us from meeting with our classmates every week to talk about our next steps within each organization. We had to reimagine how all of this would work. How were we going to help our clients without being able to see each other in person? What would happen to these organizations that rely so heavily on their community? These questions were continually flushing through my mind in hopes to find an answer to this crisis. Thankfully, my teams and I made it work. We collaborated the best we could, texting each other multiple times a week to break down different work to help our clients stay afloat. We had to make everything virtual and we continued our outreach within the community while maintaining a safe environment for everyone.

Due to COVID-19, my experience with Hawk Communications was much different than previous students. It saddens me that I was not able to attend events for the NJ Warriors or Autism MVP this semester. Having to maintain this work from home with clients we had only met a few weeks before was extremely difficult for all of us. Making sure we met the needs of our clients was our main concern throughout this process. While this crisis hindered our experience in Hawk Communications, we got the experience of something much greater, being able to work firsthand during a crisis of this magnitude.

This experience has taught me so much in such a short amount of time. I gained experience in public relations through the NJ Warriors and Autism MVP, but from the COVID-19 world crisis. I learned how to react during a crisis like this as well as see how other people handle the situation, and their ideas on how to tackle problems. Overall, my experience being a part of Hawk Communications has taught me the importance of public relations and its value. It is important to always have a backup plan because not everything goes how you think it might. This was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience due to COVID-19, but having faced this kind of real-life crisis has allowed me to gain so many valuable skills that I will be able to take with me in the future.