Our First Internship: Virtual Edition
Before the popularity of working online, interns have been stereotyped as coffee-bringers or supply stockers. Braathe Enterprises, with its completely virtual internship, has changed the game. Unsurprisingly, expectations going into an internship can be vastly different than the realities after completion of it. Today, two intern team leaders from B.E.’s Writing and Business Development Team are sharing how this virtual internship, their first experience interning, has bettered their professional skills and educated them in time management, creativity, and more.
Neela Gilbert: Coming into this internship, I was a little scared. I expected the company to be very hierarchical, as with a mom in HR, that had been my only exposure to any sort of corporate workplace. Thus, I was surprised that I was interviewed by the CEO of the company after my first interview. After that, I hoped for a lax but controlled environment, and to that, I was pleasantly surprised. Another one of my expectations was that I would be in an intern group of 5-10 people, and that work would be assigned to me. I expected to be given little freedom, as my perception only came from movies of overworked interns fetching coffees and lunches. As a high school student, I thought I would be delegated less meaningful tasks. Additionally, I expected that I could just clock in and clock out one hour a day every week to fulfill the time requirements.
Alexis Carriere: I had a lot of nerves coming into this. I had just recently changed my major to writing, despite knowing it was always what I wanted to do, and decided to take a chance on this internship. Going in, I was scared about my lack of professional experience, and possibly my lack of knowledge, standing in the way of my potential. I also didn’t know how I was going to work with people who, in my mind, were potentially way ahead of me in the world of writing. I thought I would just blend into a bunch of people doing tasks that didn’t amount to anything, and in the end, I would leave not knowing as much as I had wanted to learn.
Neela: Braathe Enterprises was so welcoming to me, which soothed my fears of being in a rigid structure for four months. I had thought there would be 5-10 interns, but there ended up being 60 during the session I worked! This amount of people increased my independence and self-determination, as I realized it was up to me to pick projects being offered. This strengthened my ability to take initiative and manage my own projects, which, in a school environment, I had never done before. I became more creative and discovered specific sectors of business, like community impact, that I didn’t know I was interested in before.
Learning self-reliance was another skill I didn’t expect to learn. When CEO Robert Braathe started giving me research assignments, he left room for my own take on whatever topic I had been tasked with. With this trusting environment, I felt more appreciated and important than I thought I would be. At first, I felt a little underqualified for the daunting task of interpreting the business world, but relying on research skills I’ve honed over the years helped abate these fears. I was able to use resources provided by my school to research, giving me the added benefit of having a tool I was already comfortable with. On the other hand, this internship taught me new ways to utilize such tools, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
Another skill I learned throughout this internship was how to manage my time, and how to enjoy the time I am using to work. I quickly learned that the times I would be working were not as cookie-cutter as they seemed, with commitments such as family, a part-time job, friends, and sports. I could fit in 15 minutes one day to check Slack, and the next spend 2 hours writing. Learning how to “find my groove” while writing usually increased the time I had planned to work, which I soon adjusted for. Scheduling out different tasks every day, and not trying to do them all at once, was a valuable skill I learned from Robert.
After finishing this internship, I can easily say that all of my doubts and nerves were put to rest. It is safe to say that it’s a lot different than I thought it would be but in the best ways possible. Right from the start, I was encouraged to always speak up with my ideas, no matter how “off the wall” they might seem, every thought has potential. I’ve learned that once an idea is formed, it’s important that it doesn’t just stay an idea, you have to act on it. This internship has given me the freedom to write and create whatever I want, and I couldn’t be happier with the outcome. I can also happily say that none of my ideas stayed in my head.
I’ve done things I never thought I would do, including doing a podcast, being a writing and business development team lead, creating a google classroom on mental health, and so much more. Robert always encourages taking initiative, and it’s something that I’ll never forget because it has taught me to be more independent. I felt validated when he asked me to put my ideas into motion and create projects. I learned to never be afraid to ask for help, or even just to talk about what you’re doing in order to pique the interest of the people around you. I never felt like I was doing something I wasn’t interested in and I can easily say that motivated me to put my best work forward. On top of everything, I always felt equal to my peers. I gained knowledge from everyone I worked with and never felt like I was inexperienced or behind in any way.
One of the most valuable things I’ve learned through this experience is how to prioritize my time. In the last month of my internship, I was balancing a full-time college senior class schedule, a job, and this internship. At first, the task was daunting, but I was able to put everything I’ve learned about time management into motion, and I can almost certainly say I did it successfully. Robert taught me how to write things out, to put my most important things first, and to always deal with stress head-on by doing things like going on walks or taking breaks to prioritize mental health. I will always be grateful for the things that Braathe Enterprise has taught me.