Intern Abroad…From Home!!
By Brett Steenbarger
In my work as a performance coach for portfolio managers at financial firms, I’ve seen first-hand how teamwork has changed in the work-from-home environment. Since the onset of the virus, many things that used to be coordinated in person now are conducted online.
Surprisingly, many teams have found that the virtual environment has made them better. For example, one team no longer relies on talking aloud during the day to coordinate work efforts but instead uses an online notetaking app. That allows everyone to edit each other’s work, make comments and suggestions, etc. Best of all, now there is an actual written record of everyone’s ideas so fewer things fall through the cracks and the team becomes more accountable!
Is it possible that best practices for virtual internships could be applied to future onsite internships??
At Connect-123, we weave career readiness competencies into the very fabric of the internship experience. (See the National Association of Colleges and Employers for the competencies we emphasize). In the virtual environment, we have found that we need to double down on our contact with program participants to make sure they are getting the right learning experience. That has pushed us to offer more interactive seminars online, more group support sessions, and more online social experiences for students. Connect has become much more than our name: it’s what we do every day to work on those competencies.
The teams I work with are looking forward to returning to the office. Let’s face it: nothing beats face to face contact at the water cooler or getting together for a fun bite to eat after work. Similarly, interns are looking forward to experiencing—live—the sites where they are working remotely: Barcelona, Spain; Cape Town, South Africa; Buenos Aires, Argentina; and so many more. But the teams I work with insist they will keep many elements of the virtual workplace. Working from home has helped them collaborate in unique ways. Similarly, even when internships resume onsite, we will retain much of what we’ve learned while studying abroad from home. Learning from home has pushed us to Connect in new and better ways—and that makes us all better!