POV: Interning at home

Illustration by Aleah Green

I could close my eyes and almost picture what it would have been like to live in Washington D.C. for a summer. Seeing the Washington Monument standing tall, walking up the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, spending countless hours at the Smithsonian and even taking the metro train for the first time. I then open my eyes and see my laptop in front of me as I look out my window to see a grapefruit tree growing under the hot Arizona sun. I am reminded that I am an intern working remotely due to a pandemic.

When I applied for an internship this past spring, I was beyond excited to visit our nation's capital and was bummed when I received an email notifying my internship would be remote. Despite my disappointment at first, taking a remote internship not only kept me busy during the summer, but taught me new skills about professionalism in the comfort of my own home.

During my internship, which was for a nonprofit organization aiming to inform people of all ages about politics through a nonpartisan perspective, I gained an array of valuable lessons that I don't think would have come from an in-person internship experience.

An advantage of working remotely is that travel doesn't limit where you can intern. I was in an internship where I worked with students from California, Florida and even Canada. Having a regionally diverse group of interns truly challenged simple tasks such as how meetings and workflow were managed. While we eventually found our groove, it didn't stop the texts from flooding in at 5 a.m. every day. Because we all came from different places and time zones, discussions were always interesting. It was during these discussions that I never shied away from providing the daily Arizona weather update.

I used to think online classes were difficult to handle, but that was because I had yet to experience an internship. In both cases, I found that working from home included many distractions. However, what makes an internship different than online classes is the reliance of others on your work. In an internship, work is shared among other interns, and if one person's work is behind, so is the whole process. With no one looking over my shoulder, this internship challenged and strengthened my ability to focus and manage time.

When it comes to a remote internship, I discovered that only I can make the best of my time there. Yes, the job description may say one will gain communication skills or publish written work, but it only happens through the effort put in. My internship had over 20 interns, and it was easy to be found empty-handed with nothing to do. This experience taught me to take initiative and work for what I want, and that it's better to ask and be told no than to not ask at all.

Moreover, the biggest lesson I learned was to take risks. In a political internship, odds are the majority of students will likely study political science. And of course, this internship was no different. At first, I was intimidated to be taking on the role of writing political articles among students who live and breathe politics, but like them, I was there to learn. As a journalism major, my understanding of politics was not as refined as my fellow interns, but I realized that I was able to go in with an open mind and get a taste of what it's like to focus on politics.

For anyone questioning if taking on a remote internship is worth their while, I say go for it. As a result of this ongoing pandemic, working remotely is here to stay. What better opportunity is there than experiencing it through an internship? Being a college student is meant to be a time to try new things and find your niche. If students can change their major multiple times before graduating, then what's another risk in taking on a remote internship? Additionally, there's nothing better than earning credit and adding on to that resume without having to leave the house.

I never thought that when I applied for an internship, I would be working from home, relying on the power of the internet to communicate with my fellow interns across the nation. Then again, I never thought a pandemic would be its cause. Despite a turn of events, I don't regret my time as a remote intern and hope others can experience it, too.