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Postcards From The Pandemic: Interning On The Cuyahoga And All That Jazz

University of Chicago sophomore Natasha Rodgers is having an unusual summer internship with the Bop Stop on Cleveland’s Near West Side. The music venue closed in mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“When we talked over the phone during the interview, he told me up front, you know, ‘We’re closed right now. I’m not sure when we’re able to reopen,’” said Rodgers. “So I knew not to expect too much, but it looks like I’ll still be able to help out with some events.”

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Rodgers is in town as part of Summer on the Cuyahoga, a program that brings college students from across the country to Cleveland for internships at businesses around the region. She's a music major who plays flute and piano and has an interest in finance. 

I had another internship before Summer on the Cuyahoga, and it ended up being canceled which was very understandable. And there just were a lot of uncertainties.

So I had to apply somewhere else and luckily Summer on the Cuyahoga said, “No matter what, if it’s going to be virtually or in person, we’re gonna still go on.

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The Bop Stop internship presented Rodgers, a music major, with an opportunity to work in a field she hopes to pursue after graduation. [Gabe Pollack]

When the Bop Stopped

For the internship at the Bop Stop, it was one of the only ones I found that I was eligible for that was in a field in the music industry which I’m interested in going into.

The goal when we talked over the phone was that I could even run an event, like, by myself, like that could possibly happen, but I’m not sure so I need to kind of adjust my expectations for what would be done.

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 A safety video for the Bop Stop features intern Natasha Rodgers demonstrating the safety precautions the music venue is taking as it reopens. [Bop Stop] 

Summer with a Pandemic

So Summer on the Cuyahoga has definitely been impacted by the pandemic.

I’ve been told normally they have about 70 interns which is really a lot and really speaks to the program. And now they probably have about half of that, maybe even less.

But we’re still having events, and they’ve had to change them. Like, there’re more outdoor events and wearing our masks and just being safe and things like that.

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Natasha Rodgers kayaking on Lake Erie. [Drew Friedhoff]

For example, we went to the zoo, and we’re going to explore Downtown which I’m kind of excited for, and then also explore Little Italy and events like that to kind of get us to explore Cleveland.

Each intern that is in person in Cleveland is paired with a virtual intern. So now we have this weekly challenge which I think is going to be really fun. And I told my partner we were going to win, where we just have to go around and take pictures of things and just find ways to get them involved.

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Summer on the Cuyahoga interns including Natasha Rodgers (fourth from right) visited the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. The program is meant to expose college students to Northeast Ohio businesses and culture to encourage them to return when they graduate. [Meghan Solc]

I’ll be here until Aug. 8. So I’m pretty excited. So I get to experience Cleveland, gain some experience with my internship and then also go home for a few months and have a little bit of summer break before school starts.

This postcard was produced by Isaiah Paik.

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