Arts & Life, Features

CSULB students talk virtual internships and tips for success

Hannah Hunter is a first-year Master of Social Work student, who is a school mental health intern within the Los Angeles Unified School District. Photo courtesy of Hannah Hunter.
Hannah Hunter is a first-year Master of Social Work student, who is a school mental health intern within the Los Angeles Unified School District. Photo courtesy of Hannah Hunter.

Hannah Hunter is a first-year Master of Social Work student, who is a school mental health intern at multiple schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

In what ways did your virtual internship experience enhance your career goals? In what ways did it hinder, if applicable, your goals? In other words, do you feel like you would have gotten more out of your internship if the program was not socially-distanced? Did you develop any new skills as a result of interning virtually?

“I am interning at an elementary school virtually and it has definitely made me more organized and creative in how I conduct sessions and get my work done. I am not getting that one-on-one in-person experience that I really need to feel like a competent social worker, unfortunately, but I know that this curveball has provided me skills for the rest of my career, especially when it comes to thinking outside the box. My internship responsibilities would not be any different if I was in person, but the overall environment and pace would have made it feel more ‘real’ if that makes any sense.”

What tips and suggestions helped you navigate through your virtual experience? What advice would you offer other students currently applying to virtual programs?

“I really cannot emphasize this enough but please, please find a tool that helps you stay organized. I played around with many different ones including Google Calendar and Asana, but the best for me has been keeping a Google Sheet of all my assignments and tasks and marking them off as I complete them. Be incredibly communicative with your supervisor, don’t be afraid to ask them questions. Connect with the other interns if there are any and be comfortable asking them for help as well. If something isn’t working for you, bring it up and offer a possible solution. Everyone is navigating this in one way or another and we’re all learning something each day about how to make this work the best way we can.”

Tips and reminders for students pursuing internships. Information from the CSULB Career Development Center and professors Holly Ferris and Emma Daugherty. Art courtesy of Xochilt Andrade.
Tips and reminders for students pursuing internships. Information from the CSULB Career Development Center and professors Holly Ferris and Emma Daugherty. Art courtesy of Xochilt Andrade.

Dominic Padilla is a third-year journalism and political science double major, who applied for a virtual internship to join the campaign for Phil Arbarro, who ran to represent California’s 22nd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. Photo courtesy by Dominic Padilla.
Dominic Padilla is a third-year journalism and political science double major, who applied for a virtual internship to join the campaign for Phil Arbarro, who ran to represent California’s 22nd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. Photo courtesy by Dominic Padilla.

Dominic Padilla is a third-year journalism and political science double major, who applied for a virtual internship to join the campaign for Phil Arbarro, who ran to represent California’s 22nd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

In what ways did your virtual internship experience enhance your career goals? In what ways did it hinder, if applicable, your goals? In other words, do you feel like you would have gotten more out of your internship if the program was not socially-distanced? Did you develop any new skills as a result of interning virtually?

“I feel [that] the virtual aspect of the internship harmed my experience. I feel like it did have an impact on [me], like I was learning or contributing to a bigger cause. I was still able to help with things such as phone banking, text banking and emailing. Because of this, I did learn how to operate these programs along with being much more comfortable cold calling people. I do feel that if things had been in-person, that the feeling of being able to rally the campaign in-person, help host events for the candidate and other planning things along with being able to network would’ve helped with my career goal of working in politics in some way or another. Despite that, I do feel that the internship helped and I enjoyed the experience overall.”

What tips and suggestions helped you navigate through your virtual experience? What advice would you offer other students currently applying to virtual programs?

“Some of the best advice I could give to students planning to intern for virtual internships would be that it is not going to be what you expect when you imagine a college internship. But the best thing you can do is that even though it is virtual, dive in entirely to the internship. Ask as many questions as possible, share contact info, talk to other interns through Zoom, look for job opportunities. It’ll take much more coordination and time because of the virtual aspect, but it’ll help make the internship feel as real as you can.”

Crystal Kem is a fourth-year public relations major who was interning for Live Nation before the coronavirus pandemic. Kem returned to the company as a virtual intern. Photo courtesy by Crystal Kem.
Crystal Kem is a fourth-year public relations major who was interning for a live entertainment company before the coronavirus pandemic halted her internship. Kem pursued a full-time virtual internship with DIG MAG in fall 2020. Photo courtesy by Crystal Kem.

Crystal Kem is a fourth-year public relations major who was interning for Live Nation, a live entertainment company, when the coronavirus pandemic caused the suspension of internship programs like Kem’s. Kem stayed in contact with her supervisor at LiveNation and eventually participated in a fully-virtual internship with DigMagazine.

So how was that experience?

“I think it was a really great experience. For me being virtual, it was as immersive as it could have been. I had weekly meetings, and I would talk to my team on a weekly basis, but other than that, it wasn’t really what I expected.”

Is there any advice that you would like to give students who are applying to virtual internships?

“It’s really hard for everyone to find an internship or a job at the moment. So I wouldn’t be so hard on yourself, because competition is just extremely high at the moment. I think I would also find other endeavors and maybe pursue personal projects or pursue different clubs and organizations if finding an internship is really difficult at the moment.”

Li’Shae Childs is a third-year psychology major who is interning as a research assistant in the Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity program at CSULB. Photo courtesy of Li'Shae Childs.
Li’Shae Childs is a third-year psychology major who is interning as a research assistant in the Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity program at CSULB. Photo courtesy of Li'Shae Childs.

Li’Shae Childs is a third-year psychology major who is interning as a research assistant in the Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity program at CSULB.

In what ways did your virtual internship experience enhance your career goals? In what ways did it hinder, if applicable, your goals? In other words, do you feel like you would have gotten more out of your internship if the program was not socially-distanced? Did you develop any new skills as a result of interning virtually?

The virtual internship experience has enhanced my career goals. Although we are fully online, I am still able to do qualitative research through the use of Zoom, and other technological resources. The online experience has provided me with ways to network online through social media, virtual conferences and workshops. The main challenge with virtual internships is missing the in-person social side, and not having a strong sense of community. I do feel like I would have gotten more out of the internship if it was in person. I struggle with social anxiety, so in-person would have helped me challenge myself to be more sociable. I did develop new skills from an online internship. I have learned how to properly communicate with individuals through email and Zoom. I have also learned how to use excel. Overall, the experience has been positive.”

What tips and suggestions helped you navigate through your virtual experience? What advice would you offer other students currently applying to virtual programs?

“The tips that have helped me navigate my virtual experience is communicating with my boss if my workload is too much, creating a community within the job and taking breaks so you’re not overwhelmed by looking at the computer all day. The main advice I would offer other students is to know that you wouldn’t be in that internship if they didn’t want you. You deserve to be there. Also talk to people in the internship that resonate with you, and that you can talk to if things are overwhelming. Lastly make sure you set a schedule of when/what time you will be working, and don’t go over that. It is important to set time for self, family and friends too.”

Interested in receiving more tips and guidance for internships, resumes and more? Visit the Career Development Center’s website.

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