Virtual Internships Part 3 : “Based” in New York City (Jonathan)

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash.

Part Three in Our Virtual Internship Experience Series:

Jonathan, Class of 2021, interned virtually with Group SJR based in New York this summer.

How do you make the most of your internship? Research the company. Understanding both the value proposition and revenue models of a company will inform how you can help advance the business goals of the company. At SJR, I asked about clients, new business opportunities, and the skills required to complete assignments. I quickly learned that I could offer my research, social listening, and copywriting skills to fulfill deliverables for two Fortune 500 companies. As a result, I focused on projects that were compatible with my skill set and that I knew would have an immediate impact on the company. Lastly, I approached managers about career advice and asked them for constructive feedback on my work. By the end of the internship, a few managers expressed their gratitude for my contributions and committed to supporting my long-term professional goals.

How do you develop a good working relationship with your supervisor? Be empathetic. Just like you, the staff is trying to balance their work and personal life. I’ve found that an informal check-in on the first week can provide insights for how to establish and navigate your professional relationships. For example, when I asked managers to meet for virtual coffees, I learned that we all shared a passion for social justice and advocacy work. Knowing this was important for two reasons: 1) it confirmed I could be my authentic self, and 2) it assured managers that I would approach assignments with a social justice lens, which was a growing trend among client requests. Ultimately, my supervisors entrusted me with independent long-term projects, which in turn allowed me to demonstrate my professional abilities and solidify my relationship with them.

What do you do to stand out (in a good way) from the other interns? Be proactive. Internships are not just an opportunity to gain work experience, it’s an opportunity to prove your potential as an aspiring professional. Interestingly, while possessing relevant knowledge and hard skills are essential, frankly, they may not raise many eyebrows because it is predictable–expected. What is unique, however, is anticipating or solving a manager’s problems. At SJR, when interns were informed about assignments, I often took the lead on creating templates, asking questions about logistics, and when appropriate, I raised concerns about our research methodology. In short, accounting for project management provided some relief for managers who then could focus on their respective deliverables.

If you’ve done a previous in-person internship, how does your virtual internship compare to in-person one (pros/cons of each)? Both offer unique learning opportunities. In-person internships allow you to experience first-hand a company’s workplace culture, interact with employees from various departments, and acquaint yourself with interns. They also require strong time management skills because, in addition to fulfilling your internship responsibilities, you have to account for things like travel and daily meals. Contrastingly, virtual internships offer a glimpse, if anything at all, about how the day-to-day operations look and feel. Also, unlike in traditional internships, you do not run into people on collaborative tools such as Teams, which means you have to be proactive about initiating conversations with interns and staff. 

What advice would you give to others who are thinking about virtual internships in the future? Be curious. To an extent, you have control over what your virtual internship experience may be. Now more than ever, you have a responsibility to ask questions, take on challenging tasks, and be unapologetic about what you want to learn and accomplish. You owe it to yourself to get the most out of these opportunities. So go on and seek virtual internships with clear responsibilities, learning objectives, and professional development opportunities.

Thank you, Jonathan! If you have a virtual internship experience that you would like to share, let us know. For more inside information on the virtual internship experience, check out part one and part two in our series.

Interested in finding a virtual internship of your own? Visit our guide to virtual internships for details.

Already have a virtual internship and looking for more tips? Check out Five Tips for Succeeding at Your Virtual Internship.

The USC Career Center is open – in person and online – and all of our services and resources are available to you, including advising, job and internship opportunities, programs, workshops, career fairs, and more. Contact us with any questions.