Wartburg West saw a decline in student participation, hosting only three students over the summer, one student in the fall of 2020 and eight students in the winter term. For each section, roughly 30 students are accepted to the program.

The Denver-based program will be back on track for future semesters.

The decline came from offices not having capacity for interns or a decrease in business leading to fewer jobs needing to be filled, according to Greg Lorenz, Urban Studies Program Director-Wartburg West.

“We did see some impact over the summer and fall, where internships sites had moved most of their work to remote,” Lorenz said. “Some places we saw were furloughing people, which means they’re cutting down hours or shifts, or telling you not to come in for a couple weeks or months.” 

Wartburg West adapted to these changes. Some internships were able to be conducted remotely or in a hybrid form where only certain parts had to be done in person. 

“Our physical therapy students worked face to face with patients and in the clinic every day, and that was great. Other students worked a combination of remote and in person. Now we’re seeing more face-to-face internships, so starting to open back up and they’re able to take on students,” Lorenz said.

At the start of the pandemic, many businesses allowed a small percentage of employees to work in person, and some did not have any. However, over the past few months these places have been able to be at about 50% or higher capacity. With this increase, more students will be able to attend in-person and gain the full experiences Wartburg West has to offer.

The chance for students to gain real world experience in their field of study is important to many students. According to Madison Stoaks, fourth-year biology major and 2020 Wartburg West summer participant, her internship was still beneficial for her to discover her future career plans even with restrictions.


“My internship was at a physical therapy clinic,” Stoaks said. “I got to have a lot of hands-on experiences and learn the role. I was able to work with patients myself and learn about physical therapy and the industry as a whole.”

Some non-academic activities that students looked forward to during these internships are not possible now, such as going to sporting events or tourist sites. 

“That was the first time I had really lived on my own. I was on campus and in an apartment by myself. That was the first time I had to solely cook for myself, take care of myself, shop for myself, just being completely alone. Learning how to be independent is a big life skill,” Stoaks said.

More information on the program can be found at www.wartburg.edu/wartburg-west-application

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