Becoming A Virtual Intern Was the Best Decision of My Life
By Kelley Laxton
In May of 2020, my dreams of interning in a different country were shattered when COVID-19 hit. All study abroad programs were cancelled, and many in-person internships in my hometown were postponed. I thought I wouldn’t have the opportunity to intern before I graduated until I received an email from my school about Connect-123’s virtual internship program. This would give me the opportunity to gain experience working for an international company but also work from home during the stay-at-home orders. Eight weeks later, I can confidently say it was the best decision of my life.
Before my program began in July, I had one-on-one meetings with a mentor from Connect-123 who helped set me up with my dream position. I am majoring in journalism and minoring in sports media and I was hoping to find an internship related to that field, despite the slim chances of meeting those expectations. One morning, I woke up to an email from my mentor saying that an online publication in Dublin, Ireland wanted to hire me on as an intern. Not only would I be working as a sports intern, but for a publication surrounded around empowering women in sports; it was perfect.
It can be quite intimidating to start an internship, especially when it was my first ever experience. Add on a remote position, an international company, and a seven-hour time difference, and the pressure begins to settle in. After my first meeting, however, I felt like part of the team.
Once a few weeks passed by, I learned different techniques to make working for an Irish company easier. We had to discuss a strict meeting schedule and hours in which I should be “online” because of the time difference. I can say that the time difference was the hardest part. I created a routine to ensure I was awake during the last few hours of their workday. My alarm clock would ring at 7 a.m. and I would be ready for meetings by 8 a.m. The nice thing about working with this time difference was that I had the ability to choose my work schedule once the meetings and interviews were over. I found that I worked best in the afternoon, so I would conduct my interviews and have meetings early in the morning then take a few hours off. At around noon, I would start my work and finish at 6 p.m.
Each week, I had different tasks dependent on what story I was working on. At the start, I pitched a few story ideas and began to reach out to athletes to interview. They had a great idea for me to start a series of stories about Irish athletes who had studied abroad. It felt amazing to have a talent and knowledge that my employer could utilize while I was interning. I would set up two to three interviews with athletes a week and write about their experiences abroad. Along with publishing an article, I also turned their recorded Zoom interviews into videos to upload onto their YouTube channel. I had to reach out to the colleges the athletes attended for video footage and created media packages out of each story. Personally, I always thought I would never like video production, but found I have a talent and passion for it. I also learned how to create graphics for the video introductions in Photoshop.
Along with the abroad series, I had the opportunity to interview professional Irish athletes. Of course, it was intimidating, but I got used to interviewing athletes with such a high status in the sports world. Emma McQuaid, a CrossFit Games athlete, and Megan Campbell, a professional soccer player for Manchester City, agreed to sit down and talk with me, a college student from Boulder, Colorado. It was inspiring.
By the end of my two-month long internship, I had eight stories published, five videos uploaded to YouTube, and two podcasts on their Spotify. I learned how to interview confidently, write about Irish sports and culture, edit videos in Adobe Premiere, and create podcasts. Most importantly, this internship has taught me where my passions lie. Now, more than ever, I can clearly see what my future career will be.