While Covid-19 closed many doors for students in 2020, it sometimes opened others. Junior Communication major JD Fritzeen received a unique opportunity as a result of changes brought on by the pandemic.
When One Door Closes
In the spring of 2020, Fritzeen, like many students, packed up and went home when Taylor announced that it was continuing the semester online to protect its students. On his way home, he found out the brand, Anthropologie, that he was supposed to work for had to cancel his internship, but Fritzeen wasn’t one to give up that easily.
“Losing the internship was pretty upsetting just because I had worked for so many months. I thought, ‘I might as well keep going. There has to be some company out there that needs help pivoting right now. There has to be a single team, whether in-person or now virtual, that still needs help,’” Fritzeen said. “That night, I started looking up internships.”
Due to his hard work and communication skills, Fritzeen got an in-person internship in Indianapolis for Pattern Magazine and a remote internship for Romeo Hunte, a fashion company based out of New York City. Both of these companies provided great opportunities for Fritzeen to get real-world experience even during a pandemic.
Both Pattern Magazine and Romeo Hunte are well respected in their fields. Pattern Magazine is a local print magazine that encourages the creativity of artists in and around Indianapolis. Romeo Hunte is a small fashion company that has established itself as one of the best, with products worn by celebrities like Beyoncé and Victor Cruz. Fritzeen may never have gotten the chance to work with them if it wasn’t for Covid-19.
Learning to Work Remotely
Due to restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, working remotely broadened Fritzeen’s scope of opportunity.
“I think Covid-19 made this internship possible because they weren’t able to have interns in office, so you didn’t have to be based in Brooklyn or the New York City radius to work with them,” Fritzeen said. “I was in Indiana working with them, someone in California was working with them, and someone in England working with us, so there were people from all over we got to work with. Normally, I wouldn’t have had that opportunity to work with this type of brand if Covid wasn’t there. It definitely demolished my original plans, but it led to some really cool plans as well.”
Fritzeen worked primarily on the public relations and marketing side of the business, keeping track of the company’s branding on social media and writing email campaigns that used skills he learned as a Communication major with an organizational concentration at Taylor University.
Though there are no “fashion” classes at Taylor, Fritzeen was grateful for the studying and critical thinking skills that Taylor’s liberal arts education provided him. He recalled the support from his professors who were there for him even after he lost his initial internship, and he's thankful for the experiences he had received through his prior internships and through Taylor.
Giving it Over to God
Fritzeen felt this whole ordeal was in God’s control. From the day his internship was cancelled to the opportunities he got to experience due to the remote internship, he knew the Lord was showing him a path forward.
“This felt like it was really a God-ordained situation,” Fritzeen said. “Out of so many applicants, getting this position was one of my dream roles. I stepped back and thought, ‘There has to be some reason.’”
Fritzeen was able to live with his sister and brother-in-law in Indianapolis for his in-person internship. His brother also lived just five minutes away, so the extra family time made the summer even more special for him.
At the end of his internship, Romeo Hunte invited Fritzeen to New York Fashion Week. While Fritzeen was unable to go, his gratefulness at their recognition of his work led him to reflect on how his summer started and how God led him to where he is now.
“It was really exciting to be invited to fashion week—the day that I heard about that provided a really cool moment to reflect upon that day a few months earlier when my whole plan had crumbled,” Fritzeen said. “I just saw God working and placing these things in my life to have this invite happen. I could never have imagined that this this is where I would end up, when I was driving home in the spring, like, ‘It’s all in shambles!’”
All of Taylor's 100+ degrees and academic programs are designed to give students skills to adapt and rise to the challenge of their circumstances.