How COVID-19 Affected my Second Year of Co-op

Interviewer: Kimberly Flores  Interviewee: Anthony Rizzo  June 24, 2020 I decided to interview Anthony Rizzo who is currently working for his second co-op through Northeastern University. He is currently working for a pharmaceutical company in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Even though Anthony wasn’t physically at school, he still was impacted by COVID-19, and he was unable to […]
Jun 29, 2020
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Interviewer: Kimberly Flores 

Interviewee: Anthony Rizzo 

June 24, 2020

I decided to interview Anthony Rizzo who is currently working for his second co-op through Northeastern University. He is currently working for a pharmaceutical company in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Even though Anthony wasn’t physically at school, he still was impacted by COVID-19, and he was unable to go back to work because he has an autoimmune disease. Throughout the interview, Anthony talks more about his experience with his second co-op as he faced the effects of COVID-19. 

What is a co-op?

     “A co-op stands for cooperative learning, where a student spends six months with a business or company of your choice that has something to do with their major, for example, my major is Chemical Engineering. The company gets six months of an intern that they can get to do work for them instead of paying a full-time employee to do work. They have a student come and do work for money usually and they each get experience out of it. I have three co-ops I have to complete before I graduate”

What did you do at your co-op?

   “At my co-op, I analyzed specific antibodies that were oncology targeting, meaning that they targeted cancer cells and delivered a payload or a drug that destroys the cells and shrinks the size of tumors related to cancer. The point of analyzing the antibodies was to make sure the amount of drugs that we thought were on the antibodies were actually on the antibodies because if it wasn’t and we administer it to a patient or into an animal and the data says that we’ve given them a drug that has an antibody that has six drugs but instead it has three drugs or has more than six, you run the risk of overdose in your patient or not giving them enough based on what they need and therefore it won’t do the job that it needs to do so that’s why we need to analyze these antibody-drug conjugates”

What did your co-op do during this pandemic? For example, could you not go into work physically?

    “Because of the nature of my company, they were deemed an essential business so they were able to remain open with 20% capacity. I was able to work from home because of my position. Most of what I was doing was on a computer anyways. The only thing I was missing out on was doing my own lab runs but I had my supervisor go in and do the runs that need to be analyzed. He would send me the data when he finished and I would be able to remote into the computer from my company and be able to still complete my job.”

Did you like working from home or was it much harder?

    “I liked working from home and I felt like I had more to do at home than I did when I was actually at work because of the need for other people to step in for people who couldn’t show up to the office, I was able to get more work to analyze. To get more work done made me feel good about what I was doing because I realized that I could still continue doing what my co-op was asking me to do at the beginning.”

Were you worried you weren’t going to get the experience you hoped for because your co-op was cut short?

    “Well my co-op wasn’t cut short, but yes, when the company told us to stop coming in, I was particularly worried because I knew I had an autoimmune disease and it scared me because I didn’t want to have nothing to do for the four out of the six months that I was on my co-op but I’m glad that I was able to work from home, but yes I was nervous that I wasn’t going to be able to complete it.”

What are your plans for summer 2020 and fall 2020?

     “Summer 2020 I have to take two summer courses and a lab that will all be online for the summer. I will be on campus for my fall semester of my junior year in college. I’m hoping by then this is all done.”

Are you worried COVID-19 is going to affect your future plans?

     “I don’t think it will affect me graduating. I’m worried that it’ll make things more difficult in my education and especially for the third co-op that I have to apply for next spring. I’m also worried that online education is something that I won’t be able to do as easily or do as effectively as I would if I was in a classroom setting and obviously I am worried that if this continues to go on through the fall and even into the next spring, that my third and final co-op would be affected and I won’t be able to get that full experience either.”

Any tips on future students going on co-op?

      “I would tell them that they should still apply as they normally would without worrying about the virus, as long as the company is still putting out jobs. I’m sure they’re thinking about what’s going on and you know giving them a position that they would be able to do whether it’s from home or if they were in the office. There’s a possibility that they will be working from home for their first co-op or the second co-op, but at the end of the day you’re still getting that same experience and that still matters and they should still treat it as a normal co-op instead of you know maybe thinking of some other alternative. I think the co-op will still be more beneficial, as opposed to doing something else”

Other Interviews Conducted by the Team at Relay:

Student Narratives from the Team at Relay:

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