Intern Takeover: Interning During a Pandemic
This year, we had the pleasure of serving Choice as the Summer 2020 interns. Each of us has gained a great deal of knowledge that we will take with us throughout the rest of our careers. In this blog post, we wanted to focus on our unique experiences working a remote internship during a pandemic.
What was your biggest challenge this summer?
Brittany Battista, Publicity Intern – Being assertive and confident as a young professional can be intimidating, but it can also help you unlock your true professional potential. I can be shy at times which has previously made me apprehensive to speak up about my own goals, ambitions, questions, and expertise. Working remotely for the first time amplified this challenge but also empowered me to overcome it because I knew if I didn’t force myself to go outside of my comfort zone, I would be impeding upon my own success and the success of my team. I quickly learned that as a member of a remote team, a strong initiative makes all the difference. Every idea, insight, intention, and inquiry needs to be communicated intentionally, not casually. Your team can’t read your nonverbal communication over a phone call, message, or an email, instead, you have to be outright. For me, this meant building the confidence to ask about joining meetings, offering to complete a project that sparked my interest but wasn’t assigned to me and contributing to brainstorms among my seasoned leaders. This experience has taught me that curiosity and boldness are not only welcomed in the workplace but applauded and it can lead to more responsibility and accountability for you in the long run.
Taylor McCarthy, Social Media Intern – This was the first time I’ve ever held a remote internship position. As someone who thrives in an office environment, it was challenging to make this switch. I enjoy building genuine relationships with my fellow interns and coworkers and found myself worried that I’d struggle to implement this remotely. Much like Brittany, I was pushed far outside my comfort zone. I was able to start conversations with coworkers and found myself contributing to conversations a lot more! Having different threads in Slack allowed me to do this with ease and build the relationships I feared wouldn’t be possible.
What did you personally learn during this internship?
Meghan Telling, Business Development Intern – “Through all this chaos I’ve learned to alter my perspective and pivot when needed. I’m a planner, I make lists, I set goals, and I pretty much always know my next move. So when a week of spring break quickly turned into an early summer I was thrown off, to say the least. Everything I had been planning for summer 2020 came to a screeching halt. Originally, I pictured myself interning at a large company in Atlanta in a typical office setting. Instead, I’m working remotely at a small agency (small in numbers, but definitely NOT in talent). Although it’s not what I expected, I think it’s what I needed. I was so comfortable with where I was in life and for the most part, I felt like I had it all figured out. Through this internship, I’ve learned valuable industry knowledge and how to effectively communicate with clients, but most importantly I’ve learned to be more comfortable with change and how to pivot when things go awry. Being organized and “on top of it” is very useful, but flexibility is vital in a fast-paced and ever-changing industry.”
Natalie Siegman, Social Media Intern – Thanks to a previous internship, I was prepared to intern remotely for Choice this summer, but I was not expecting to intern remotely during a pandemic. Besides navigating around the normal obstacles that remote work brings, this pandemic has brought new anxieties and new challenges.
Everything that we go through has the opportunity to be a learning experience, and this internship is nothing short of that. I have learned how important communication and grace are while navigating through a remote internship and our personal experiences. When we start to feel overwhelmed, anxious, joyful, or excited, it is necessary to communicate how we are feeling with our team.
Working at Choice this summer has taught me how to show grace to my teammates, my leaders, and, most importantly, myself. No one knows “the right way” to operate during a pandemic that has completely uprooted our lives. Some of us are waking up and having some of the most productive days we’ve had in months while others are just proud of themselves for getting through another day. I think we can find comfort that we are all still trying to figure out how to navigate this “new normal,” and it’s easy to extend grace to others when we are all experiencing similar anxieties.
If you could give one piece of advice to future interns, what would it be?
Hallie Bauerband, Publicity Intern – To future interns out there, who are contemplating future career goals, life in a pandemic, and everything in between, don’t be afraid to be a trailblazer. Any internship presents itself with the opportunity to learn more about yourself and gain insight into what kind of work culture and environment creates the most space for you to grow and shine. Through interning, you are taking a step in the right direction by taking the time to assess what personal strengths you bring to the table, as well as how you can be intentional in having the right conversations to best bring those forth in your workplace. Each new day is full of opportunity and as long you are pressing into that, you can rest assured that you are on the right path, moving towards a bright future-no matter how bleak any current moment may feel.
Avery Anderson, Business Development Intern – The thought of interning can be intimidating. I remember doubting if I was ready or if I was worthy of a position that I was unsure I was qualified for. If you relate to this at all, please know that you are ready and you are able! An internship is an opportunity to experience a day in the life of your intended field of work, discover your strengths and needs in a future career and experience an environment that will challenge you in growth and responsibility. It is meant to be exciting!
My advice once you have started is to treat your internship like the gift that it is. Wherever you are, there will be many people who were once in your shoes; take advantage of that! Feel free to ask questions, get to know your boss’s stories and why they love where they are, sit in on whatever you can to learn more about the company, and be honest if you are confused. Your team is there to help you and wants to make the most of your experience!
What has been your favorite part of working remotely?
Brittany Battista, Publicity Intern – The pandemic has certainly presented many barriers for the traditional workplace but it’s also helped change sentiment surrounding remote work. I have a passion for the lifestyle and entertainment industry and even moved across the country for an internship in the industry last year. Upon returning to my home state of Michigan afterward, which is dominated by the automotive industry, I found it difficult to find new opportunities within my professional niche. I had never considered the prospect of a remote internship until they became a mainstream topic of conversation in wake of the pandemic, helping me realize that I didn’t need to travel hundreds of miles to work within my industry. My favorite part about working remotely with Choice is realizing that young professionals can gain industry experience, forge valuable relationships, and develop a professional identity without needing to work in an office. I’m forever changed by the opportunity to collaborate virtually with this team of industry experts across the country and for a glimpse into the modern workplace of the digital age.
Meghan Telling, Business Development Intern – Simply stated, my favorite part of working remotely has been avoiding ATL traffic and working from my couch! However, I’m happy that working remotely has allowed me to count my blessings. Now that the hustle of everyday life has been forced to stop I’ve become more aware of what’s truly important. I’m thankful for my health, getting to spend more time with my family, and a work environment that’s allowed me to learn, grow and become more confident. Despite being limited to Zoom calls and Slack channels, the women at Choice have made us, as interns, feel like a part of the family. I’m grateful for this opportunity and I know that I’m walking away with amazing mentors and friendships.
Any tips for building relationships and getting to know your team?
Hallie Bauerband, Publicity Intern – Communicate, connect and create meaningful relationships with the people you are in contact with. Even if you have to go the extra mile to set up a zoom call with your fellow interns to discuss a project (or play a virtual game of Scattergories), establishing these relationships will help foster comradery and connection. Taking the extra step to get to know your coworkers will allow you to feel more at home in your work from home life. Additionally, Choice has a team of talented and amazing women leaders who are so worth knowing. I am so thankful for the relationships I have formed here in such a short amount of time. Lastly, if you want those workplace relationships to bloom, be an active participant in any/all slack channels. It is a gift to know the people you work with and chat about Taylor Swift album release day, favorite junk foods, and everything in between.
Taylor McCarthy, Social Media Intern – “My biggest piece of advice is to treat your fellow interns like colleagues, not competition. Yes, you should strive to be the best you can be, but not at the expense of other people in your group! I have gotten the most out of this internship because the other interns and I have had each other’s backs. From offering assistance on projects to sharing new learning opportunities we’ve found, it’s created an environment where we build each other up rather than tear each other down. This summer, we’ve managed to hold each other to a high standard and create an environment where we can all work together. I got the absolute most out of this internship because of this culture.”
How has the Choice team helped you grow during this time?
Avery Anderson, Business Development Intern – Throughout my time in college, I’ve dreamt of what my future career would be. I have always desired one that was backed with passion and full of opportunity, excitement, and growth. I came into my internship at Choice hopeful that these boxes would be checked, little did I know all that they would add to my list!
Throughout this summer, I have had the privilege of experiencing this team of empowering women who delight in making others feel known gather around each other in grace, intentionality, and love. Even in the middle of a pandemic and all of these new challenges, they have found time to celebrate their coworker’s victories and exciting life updates, pause to pray for one another in genuine compassion, and find new ways to support and serve each other.
The Choice team not only works hard to foster a healthy and honorable work environment that makes room for self-growth, but they diligently call you higher in creativity, open-mindedness, and thoughtfulness to produce content that you can be proud of. This experience has given me the greatest opportunity to gain knowledge of what it takes to be different both in relationships and at work. I am so grateful for the Choice team and to have had my first internship bring a whole new excitement for what can be one day!
Natalie Siegman, Social Media Intern – Surrounded by women who have taught me how to work diligently while also leaving room for the days we aren’t feeling our best, this internship has allowed me to grow as a young professional in the public relations industry and as an individual. Although this internship was in the midst of a pandemic, I found the silver linings and growth opportunities in everything with the help of my teammates and managers.
This internship challenged me to try new things, explore areas of the industry that I wasn’t familiar with and create intentional work. I have grown as a creator. My favorite days were spent working on new design ideas, developing content, and brainstorming ideas for the month. Much of this growth was fostered through the encouragement of the women of Choice. They were so welcoming to new ideas, designs, and processes. I am so thankful for the opportunities I had to think outside-of-the-box and learn how to create intentional and thoughtful content.