Virtual Internships Part 4 : Interning for the WNBA (Tatiana Lubanko)

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Part Four in Our Virtual Internship Experience Series:

Tatiana Lubanko, Class of 2021, is currently interning virtually with a WNBA team, the Los Angeles Sparks, based in Los Angeles this season. 

How has your virtual internship evolved since you first started?
It has evolved a lot due to how the season was uncertain at the start. When I first got hired, it was prior to COVID, but then roughly two weeks later COVID hit and shut down all major sports leagues. The WNBA season had not started at that point, however, due to the current climate of the other leagues, the season start date was put on hold. So, at first, we were doing a lot of ‘what ifs’ to prepare for the possible season. Now, the season is in full swing (in Orlando), and doing PR virtually has been a very different experience. 

How do you make the most of your internship?
I make the most of my internship by trying to get involved in any way I can. Using the tools and skills I learned from school and previous PR internships, I am constantly researching statistics and media to pitch ideas to, and I like to stay up to date with current news and changes happening in the WNBA and in the industry as a whole. Additionally, I like to always be brainstorming different ideas that can help the PR team. It’s important to me that despite the internship being virtual, I am still learning and doing things that will help me in the future. Also, it’s good to be present; I think another great way to make the most of my internship is just being grateful for the opportunity that I have been given.

How do you develop a good working relationship with your supervisor?
The business communication platform, Slack, has been an integral way for me to stay in contact with my supervisors during this virtual internship. Just having the ability to contact either of my bosses quickly and efficiently has been very helpful when it comes to asking questions and scheduling one-on-one check-ins to further develop our professional relationship.

What do you do to stand out (in a good way) from the other interns?
I try to be helpful and available as much as I can. Working in PR for sports means that things are constantly happening and changing quickly, so I think the best way to stand out is to always be up to date on everything that is happening in the industry. I work with a good group of interns, so it’s important to me that I’m always putting in extra effort and doing my best work possible.

If you’ve done a previous in-person internship, how does your virtual internship compare to in-person one?
This internship is vastly different from my previous internships. To start, it’s weird to be working in sports, but not actually physically attending any of the games. It’s also weird to think I have never met my supervisors or the other interns in-person. Having to communicate digitally rather than personally can be confusing and difficult at times to get something done, especially if you don’t know exactly what that person is trying to convey over a text message. A big change for me is keeping myself focused. It is a lot easier to be focused when you are in the physical office or in the arena at a game, but it’s a different scenario when you have to work on things at home on your couch. Working from home has definitely helped me to develop a new way of keeping myself focused and engaged daily.

What advice would you give to others who are thinking about virtual internships in the future?
I think you shouldn’t let the idea of a virtual internship stop you from doing it. Yes, it is going to be a much different experience than what it would be in person, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be learning valuable things. I think my current internship with the Sparks has not only taught me things in the public relations field, but it has also taught me how to adjust to things on the fly. These are unique times that have put us all in a new position, but I am glad that despite the difficulties, I am still using this time to continue learning new things from an awesome company. 

Anything else you want to share about the experience?
Working in women’s sports is such a good experience that opens you up to a lot more than you might think. Women’s sports are oftentimes looked down upon, so it is a humbling experience to work in PR and figure out how to continue to let people know about the WNBA league and how it deserves the same respect as men’s sports. I recommend that everyone reading this should take some time and watch at least one WNBA game this season. #GoSparks! 

Thank you, Tatiana! 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 parts onetwo, and three 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.