Campus Life | August 14th, 2020
Virtual Internships are the New Normal
By: A-Chai'A Jackson
Summer break came with a series of surprises, but in the midst of it, all college students within the Tallahassee community are still securing internship opportunities.
Students at Florida A&M University (FAMU) and Tallahassee Community College (TCC) took matters into their own hands to gain career experience, enhance their skill sets, and to establish relationships with Fortune 500 companies.
Of course, the objective is to secure internships upon graduation, but students of all major-disciplines have proven they have what it takes to adjust fluidly during a time of uncertainty.
Joshua Brown, a business administration student at FAMU shared what sparked his interest to intern virtually this summer for Bank of America Private Bank in New York, N.Y. His goal was to secure a job post-graduation and from the looks of his performance, that goal is definitely achievable.
“I was able to attend a diversity and inclusion summit during my freshman year at the headquarters of Bank of America in New York, and as a result, I was able to make some connections which granted me an invite to be interviewed for the Wealth Management summer program,” Brown said. “The interview outcome was great and then I got some exciting news that I got the offer. As for my experience so far, I will say that it has been a valuable experience amid the uncertainty of how the virtual internship process was going to go.”
Brown honed in on his interpersonal skills with colleagues who taught him the basic operation in communication at the bank.
The benefit of interning at the private bank is that Brown is offered open access to learn from and work with professionals who assume positions within three divisions such as relationship management, trust and investment.
“The opportunity allowed me to figure out what path I would like to go down in the future. The program was well thought out, well planned and well-executed, so it was a good summer,” Brown said.
From a communal aspect, fellow schools in the area have also supported their students with transitioning to virtual internship opportunities in terms of the logistics that are required to complete them.
Tyrone Johnson, a Florida State University (FSU) alumnus, spoke on behalf of his role as Internship Coordinator and Employer Relations at TCC. He gave insight into what type of internships the college offers and how current interns are enjoying their remote programs.
“I worked with many students, who completed virtual internships, and their experiences varied. All of the students enjoyed their virtual or remote internship opportunities,” Johnson said. “There have been some virtual opportunities for our students to intern outside of Florida as well. A lot of the internships we received have been social media marketing, computer science, information technology, and educational related internships,” Johnson said.
For some students this summer, virtual internship experiences are as engaging as they made them be. In the end, the lesson many interns learned was what they put into the experience is what they would gain in return — regardless of the conditions.
Majel Williams, a business administration student with a concentration in marketing at FAMU, spent her summer virtually interning for Sam’s Club in Bentonville, Ark., specializing in merchandising. Based on her experience, she explained the importance of being attentive, proactive, and adaptable as an intern.
“I had two projects that were focused on the Club’s pickup service, basically for people to order online and pick up at the store. And then, I also focused on how Costco affects the membership in Sam’s Club, and that is their competitor,” said Williams. “So, the first thing that we did was focus on the friction points of Club’s pickup, how to improve the service, and how to make it a better experience for members.”
According to Yello, 22% of students worried their virtual internship experience would not be as good, while 12% were concerned about not having enough time to impact or leave a good impression for a full-time position due to the pandemic.
“The benefit of a virtual internship is that it is ten times easier to reach out to people that you would probably never have the opportunity or time to engage with in person,” said Williams. “The downside is that if you do not have discipline, or motivation to perform without distractions, you are stuck there.”
Despite the abundance of uncertainties, virtual interns have proven that no matter the circumstances they have the ability to exceed their expectations. Their faith in their potential is responsible for success no matter if it means sitting behind the screen on endless Zoom calls.