While many students’ summer internships looked a little different than usual in 2020, students still found ways to make their experience valuable. Whether working virtually or for an essential business there’s one thing that’s certain – Tippie Marketing students are resilient.
Marketing students, Jackie Stutz, Allie Wendell, and Travis Hudson gave us a little insight on their virtual internship experience, while Michaela Ackerman provided some reflection on working for an essential business during COVID-19.
Dealing with Obstacles
When asked about the biggest obstacles and concerns they faced during their internship, their answers ranged from dealing with uncertainty, a lack of clarity about expectations, trying to separate work from home, and effectively communicating with coworkers.
Working for ALDI, who was considered an essential business and held their internship in-person, Mikaela’s biggest concern was the uncertainty regarding how long the pandemic would last and what each day would look like. Mikaela relied on her coworkers and managers to ease her concerns saying, “being around the amazing co-workers I had during the internship made this so much easier. ALDI has fantastic communication and I appreciated them always keeping the interns in the loop.”
Travis expressed his difficulty understanding what was expected of him in the beginning of his internship which led to making a few mistakes early on. He was able to overcome the challenge saying, “because I was left alone and unsupervised for most of the day, I had to learn to reach out and ask questions for clarification and specificity.”
Jackie described the difficulties of separating work and home saying, “I often found myself working 3 plus hours later than I normally would’ve in the office, simply because I had nothing else to do.” To overcome the challenge of working from home, she made a few key changes to find some balance. For Jackie, “It became really important to me to shut my laptop down at a reasonable time to make sure there was a healthy balance between work and home.”
Allie found that, “asking questions when I couldn’t find the answer myself, and learning whether coworkers liked to use email or Microsoft Teams to communicate”, helped her to overcome the communication challenges she faced.
Most Rewarding Aspect of their Internships
Reflecting on the most rewarding aspects of their internships, Mikaela remarked, “Honestly, it was as simple as thinking about all the experience I was able to get despite being in the middle of a pandemic was such a great feeling and I will be forever grateful for that.”
Allie also described the experience as an opportunity to develop professionally, stating, “The most rewarding part about my internship was being able to learn new skills that will help me in my future careers. One main skill I grew was time management. Being at home and not in an office I had to make sure I stayed on top of my work.”
Jackie and Travis agreed that the connections they formed during their internships was extremely rewarding. “The people I worked with were by far my favorite part of the internship. Despite not being in person, connections and friendships were formed with everyone on the marketing team from the top down,” says Travis.
Professional and Personal Growth
Asked about the ways in which they thought their experience affected their professional or personal growth, the sentiment was consistent among them that they were able to learn how to be more adaptable to change. Given the unusual circumstances they faced this summer, they all felt similarly that the experience has prepared them to work in a versatile and rapidly-changing workplace.
Jackie reiterated this saying, “It’s shown me that important work doesn’t have to be done in a professional office. That might seem simple, but I think it’s super cool that hard work and great things can be accomplished even in your desk in your bedroom. The world didn’t have to stop when everything went remote.”
Exceeding Expectations and Accomplishments
When asked whether their internships had met, exceeded or fell short of their expectations, these Marketing Students had nothing but good things to share. Mikaela shared that, “The internship looked differently than I expected, but definitely exceeded my expectations. Even though the staff was not able to be all together, the communication was stronger than ever.”
Next, the interns were asked to reflect on what they were most proud of accomplishing during their internships. Allie detailed her experience saying, “One thing I was most proud of during my internship was being able to gain so much experience about sales. I wasn’t just treated as an intern, I was treated as a regular employee.”
Similarly, Travis remarked that he was, “most proud of the connections [he] made.” He went on to say, “I believe the people I worked with truly want to see me succeed, and will help me in any way they can with my career going forward.”
Jackie and Mikaela shared similar accomplishments by both receiving full-time offers from the companies they interned with! Mikaela will start her full-time position with ALDI after graduation as a District Manager. Jackie started working for Pear Deck as a Marketing Coordinator Intern back in October 2019, and shared her most recent accomplishment this summer saying, “I’m really proud to say that I accepted a full-time job with them! As of July 2020, I’m a full-time Marketing Coordinator.”
Learning from the Experience
Finally, we asked each of the interns to share what advice they would give to other students on how to make an internship as rewarding as possible.
“To make a virtual internship rewarding be sure to attend all meetings your invited to, even if they are optional. These meetings can give you great insight on your department and you can learn so much just from listening.” – Allie
“Make sure you take it seriously. It might be easy to slack off or not hold yourself accountable, but it’s important to not have that mindset. Get the most out of it because we don’t know how work settings will be after the pandemic.” – Jackie
“Reach out to the people you work with, and make the extra effort to get to know them. Important connections can still be made virtually, networking doesn’t have to stop just because you aren’t face to face” – Travis
“Be a sponge, have confidence, and ask questions!” – Mikaela
Meet the students featured above:
Mikaela Ackerman is a senior at the Tippie College of Business. Mikaela interned with ALDI this past summer as a District Manager Intern.
Travis Hutson is in his final year at the Tippie College of Business. This past summer he was a Marketing and Business Development Intern with Hawthorne Advertising.
Jackie Stutz graduated from Tippie College of Business in May 2020. She completed her summer internship with Pear Deck as their Marketing Coordinator Intern.
Allie Wendell is a senior at the Tippie College of Business. In the summer of 2020, Allie was a Business Development, Sales Intern with Zebra Technologies.