College of Health and Human Performance

Interning During a Pandemic

HHP Seniors Finish Strong

By Kyle Chambers | May 19, 2020

Seniors found their final semester internships cancelled or changed with short notice this spring in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

But the sudden transition didn’t stop students from making the most out of their spring semester immersion experiences — a requirement for the completion of their bachelor’s degrees.

According to Blain Harrison, Ph.D., internship coordinator for the Department of Applied Physiology and Kinesiology (APK), almost all of the department’s 187 students completing an out of classroom experience this semester did so remotely. The majority had projects or assignments given to them by site supervisors. The remainder completed assignments that were created based on internship learning objectives.

Andrew Dashiell, a senior in APK, said that a few weeks after his internship at ReQuest Physical Therapy transitioned online, he was not assigned any more work from the site. To make up for this, his internship coordinator, Harrison, worked with him to come up with alternative projects.

Dashiell said he was given a list of 10 assignments, and was instructed to complete one each week until the end of his internship on April 22. From drafting treatment plans to creating flashcards with anatomical information, these projects were meant to help future interns who will work at his site.

According to Dashiell, most of his assignments required independent research of topics of his choosing, an internship perk that he enjoyed.

Andrew Dashiell (second from right) at his internship site with the ReQuest Physical Therapy Team


Other students, like Sarah David, a pre-dental senior in APK, chose to make the most of their experience in person.

David worked as an office assistant with Gainesville’s Exceptional Dentistry & Sedation Center, a state-of-the-art facility led by HHP alumni Drs. Art and Kim Mowery. David was responsible for helping with some dental procedures and sterilization techniques. She said that when Florida’s governor closed all dentist practices until May 8, the office required ‘all hands on deck’ to handle emergencies.

After a week of staying home from her internship while the practice determined its COVID-19 plans, she couldn’t wait to get back to work.

“I missed it,” David said. “I wanted to do my part to help out any way I could during the crisis.”

On Wednesdays and Thursdays, David came into the office to help with procedures involving pain, broken teeth and crowns. She said that this new experience has made her feel much more prepared about attending dental school following graduation.

“I’ve learned so much here,” she said. “Since the dentists here also teach at UF’s dental school, I’m learning on the job all the time!”

Dr. Art Mowery, David’s site supervisor, spoke highly about her work in the office.

“Sarah is the type of student who makes you proud to be affiliated with HHP,” Mowery said. “She is the first here in the morning and last to leave. She found out that we had an emergency after hours surgical patient and on her own drove from Jacksonville just to be here in case we needed her.”

Holly Moses, Ph.D., internship coordinator for the Department of Health Education and Behavior, said that 80 percent of the department’s students had their onsite internship moved online. Some students remained in Gainesville, but a large number of students returned home.

Once HEB made the transition, Moses said that site supervisors worked with the department to ensure that students maintained an interactive experience. HEB interns were tasked with creating literature reviews, managing social media platforms and other alternative online assignments.

“The supervisors were amazing,” Moses said. “So many others are deeply committed to the communities they serve and they continued to work hard for their interns”


Nicolas Todero, a senior in the online sport management program, completed his internship with Nona Soccer Academy. Originally, he was included in two projects, one focusing on coaching education and the other in revenue management.

Once his work transitioned online, SPM internship coordinator, Doug Demichele, Ed.D, worked with Todero to create a new project. His new assignment focused on parent education and informed parents how to behave as role models in sport.

As a non-traditional student and a former professional tennis player, Todero balanced an internship with his full-time job at the United States Tennis Association (USTA). He sees positives to the move online and felt the change made it easier to coordinate tasks.

“There was no difficulty meeting deadlines or scheduling meetings, since this could all be done virtually,” he said. According to Todero, leadership in the USTA was pleased with his work.

“They were very impressed,” Todero said. “They saw the projects that I worked on with the soccer academy and were surprised that I could work on tasks at that level and in a sport outside my area of expertise.”

Todero said his goal is to continue career growth within the USTA. Using the knowledge gained from his spring semester internship, he hopes to branch out to new opportunities that may have been previously unavailable.

“It’s been a very challenging semester,” Todero said. “But it makes me happy to know that I could contribute in a positive way.”

SPM online student Nicolas Todero delivers a presentation on coaching philosophy during the in-person phase of his internship with Nona Soccer Academy.

Are you in a position to recruit or refer Gator alumni to your organization? HHP is looking for employers interested in hiring students for full-time, part-time and internship positions. Email Tiffany Griffith to get started –

Looking for ways to support current students’ professional development? The UF Career Connections Center is hosting a variety of programs and document review days and are looking for alums who would like to participate and share their perspectives and experience. If you have any interest, please complete an online survey by May 31, 2020.

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