How COVID-19 Modified the Job of a College Coordinator in San Jose

Editor’s Note: This story is part of the annual Mosaic Journalism Workshop for Bay Area Students, a two-week intensive course in journalism. The students of this year’s virtual program report and photograph real stories under the guidance of professional journalists.

Since the shelter-in-place order began, Kenneth Woods has been taking on his job day in and day out as coordinator for the high school work studies. The duties and responsibilities that used to fulfill his day have completely changed, and he said he felt a little lost.

Prior to COVID-19, Woods came to his office at Cristo Rey San Jose Jesuit High School at 9 a.m., mingled a bit with colleagues, and delved into his assignments directly to manage the details of the school’s internship program.

All 500 students at the school have internships and he oversees 17 companies and their student employees. Companies range from Ernst & Young and Goodwill from Silicon Valley to the Diocese of San Jose and California Water Service.

His main job in the internship department was how students get to their internship locations. However, with restrictions on on-site accommodation, students take part in internships remotely. Woods now spends much of his time helping students cope with the problems that arise while working outside the company.

“It’s like taking customer service to another level,” said colleague Marcos Manriquez. “I need to be able to help students with work-related problems. I also have to solve problems companies may have. Sometimes it has to do with the students and sometimes with the operations. “

Coordinators often need to remind students to hand in their time cards, ensure they turn their work over to supervisors at the end of the day, and maintain professional communication.

Woods said he missed his previous work life and worked personally with colleagues. When he was working in the office, he could easily reach out to one of his employees and help them with a project. There is no longer an easy way to do this.

Although there are weekly team meetings and individual check-ins, sometimes he still feels disconnected and isolated from the team.

“I do not know what’s up. … I feel out of control, ”he said.

To make up for this, Woods said he used his extra time to find new ways to communicate with them. For example, he has experimented with online collaboration tools like Trello and Google Hangouts.

Kenneth Woods said he knew his job would go back to normal at some point. Until then, he will continue to adapt to his new relationship with people, work and time.

Vanessa Gudino is an aspiring senior at Cristo Rey San José Jesuit High School.

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