Future of Work and Remote Internships During COVID-19

Working Remotely

August 14, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic caused the cancelation of in-person internships for many college students. This left some students scrambling to find new opportunities to continue growing both professionally and personally. Companies equipped to adapt quickly to a remote model were able to minimize worker layoff and in some cases offer remote internships, an attractive alternative for many students forced to figure out new summer plans. The Alariss slogan is “the future of work is global” and the pandemic made the future Alariss envisions very much the present. 

In remote work, successful virtual communication is essential for project completion and problem solving. Both Christian Lin and Eric Stinehart, Alariss interns, were surprised by how seamless communication during the remote internship felt. Tools like Slack made it easy to touch base and collaborate on various projects and Zoom acted as a unifying force for whole team meetings and group bonding. 

Remote internships also push students to create their own schedules and provided flexibility throughout the workday that some thrived upon. Eric mentioned, “I could wear pajamas when I wanted and was able to multitask effectively when needed.” Christian adds,  “Remote work enabled me to maximize workflow by doing work whenever I had the most energy.” 

As an intern class unified in our interest in global connection, it makes sense that bonding and finding ways to create social gatherings were priorities regardless of the distance that separated us. We had a movie night, group yoga, an escape room activity, a Jeopardy night, and countless other activities that provided a low-pressure opportunity for virtual community building. Christian, who was a social chair and in charge of organizing many of the team events, explains, “though it isn’t the same as being there in person, we found ways to make the experience fun anyways.” Zoom also gave participants more opt-in power “because people can have more choice in being social, rather than feeling forced or obligated in person,” Eric explains. 

Because internships are often seen as a way to get exposure to a potential field of interest, a remote internship can easily be training-heavy. For example, I was exposed to websites like Crunchbase and Hubspot which made business development and outreach much simpler and more streamlined. Zoom was the perfect platform to gain exposure to these programs because I followed along through the screen share feature while testing out the programs on my own computer. This allowed for fast learning and application. 

As the summer comes to a close, the return to school also becomes a complicated issue for college students. Some universities are creating a hybrid model of both online and in-person classes, while others are opting for only in-person or only online schools. I am a student going into my junior year at Harvard where classes are completely online. Due to social distancing measures, Harvard felt able to provide housing for about 40% of undergraduate students, but only 25% are returning to campus. This means that 3,599 students, out of the 5,231 undergraduates who intend to enroll for the fall semester, will be learning remotely. 

The transition to remote learning has been surprising and challenging for me as someone who has only experienced in-person classes. However, for Hung Nguyen, an Alariss intern and student at Minerva Schools, virtual learning has been the majority of his college experience. He has traveled to five different countries while taking virtual classes. The rigorous curriculum and remote classes have shown him that he can create his own schedule and routine no matter where he is located. Some thrive off the bat with remote work or school models, however it takes others a bit of adjusting. 

The pandemic has drastically changed the workforce by bringing remote opportunities to the forefront. Students are enduring this major shift where flexibility and adaptability seem to be the major themes that aid in success. I am still figuring out how to navigate these uncertain times, but it seems that technology will continue to be a force for an interconnected global future. 


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