Virtual internships are providing real experience
KENNESAW, Ga. (Jul 27, 2020) — Kennesaw State University senior Maverick Jones saw an opportunity rather than an obstacle when his summer internship shifted from in-person to remote during the coronavirus pandemic.
Jones, an information systems major and Coles College Scholar, was slated to spend the summer in Dallas, Texas for his internship with IBM. However, conducting it virtually instead has not hindered his opportunities to learn and gain work experience as a technical sales intern.
“This has been the most valuable professional experience of my life, remote or otherwise,” Jones said. “It would be easy to look at this situation from an outside perspective and see glaring realities that could be construed as purely negative, but this internship has been everything I hoped for and more.”
As a technical solution specialist, Jones is interning in sales related to Cloud computing and cognitive technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning. Even working remotely, Jones said he is able to access “almost limitless resources” at IBM to learn about business and technology.
“I have worked on so many projects with different products and solution offerings, used many different sales tools, and even participated in real client calls,” he said. “IBM genuinely wants their interns to experience as much as possible. You can reach out to anyone within this global organization, no matter how high up or how far away they may be, and everyone is so willing to share their knowledge and experience or answer any questions.”
Other KSU students are having similar experiences through virtual internships with companies such as UPS, Pandora, Chick-fil-A, Ecolab and NCR. Approximately 215 Kennesaw State students from a range of majors are participating in a remote internship or co-op this summer, according to the Department of Career Planning and Development.
“It’s becoming increasingly important to employers how students are spending their ‘down time’ during this period or how they’re pivoting from a rescinded offer,” said Ana Baida, executive director of transition support and career development. “We know that students who participate in hands-on, experiential learning are more competitive in the job market. Gratefully, employers are pivoting to remote internships and even providing opportunities for virtual job shadowing.”
For KSU senior Jeremiah Hayes, an Honors student and industrial and systems engineering major, his internship with Chick-fil-A not only switched to virtual due to the pandemic, but it also altered the direction of it. The focus of Hayes’ internship initially was to help Chick-fil-A operators implement new technologies. Instead, he is now helping to address operator efforts toward COVID-19.
“Although the internship would have been much different in-person, Chick-fil-A manages to make it just as engaging and meaningful remotely,” Hayes said. “I have learned from an industry leader in providing high-quality customer service that it is crucial to maintain good stewardship, especially in difficult times.”
Ashiv Sharma, a senior majoring in software engineering, is doing a remote internship with Pandora on its client applications engineering team, Sharma is working to create a tool that will help software engineers test user interactions significantly faster on the Pandora app for iPhones and Android.
“The skills I have learned so far have been incredibly valuable,” Sharma said. “I have been able to create a project from the ground up through research, documentation, evaluating company needs and developing an MVP (minimum viable product). This internship has been amazing for my career.”
The many KSU students gaining valuable experience from remote internships this summer also include:
Kamari Davis, a senior majoring in finance and minoring in marketing, is a claims intern with UPS Capital, the insurance/financial subsidiary of UPS. In that role, he is helping to optimize the process for claim adjusters to pay shipment claims as well as develop efficient training for incoming claim adjusters.
“I am grateful that UPS has the capabilities to go remote and continue their internship program,” Davis said. “Being an intern in the virtual working environment has taught me the importance of adaptability. In business, you have to be prepared for the unexpected. If you can adapt to new situations, you will set yourself up for greater success in the future.”
Cammie Conn, a junior majoring in theatre and performance studies, is interning with PivotPath, a local digital marketing agency, writing blog articles about digital marketing and helping to create social media marketing content. Conn said she “jumped at the opportunity” for a remote internship since she was having difficulty finding in-person work during the pandemic and also didn’t have reliable transportation.
“I recognize how important internships are to career development, and I feel confident knowing that I learned a great deal about marketing and writing in a professional environment,” Conn said. “I’ve also been learning to rely on digital programs and platforms, which fortifies my resumé a lot.”
Elayna Harris, a senior criminal justice major, is interning with the Evan Guthrie Law Firm in South Carolina. She writes research-based articles about criminal justice and law that are published on the lawyer’s website.
Dakota Cameron, a senior majoring in history, is interning with Kennesaw State, but doing it remotely. He and fellow interns with KSU’s Museum of History and Holocaust Education are creating digital lessons for history teachers to use in the coming fall semester and beyond.
“The value of such an internship is undeniable,” Cameron said. “The MHHE gets valuable help to produce useful materials and the students gain valuable work experience to add to their resumé.”
– Paul Floeckher
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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers more than 150 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 41,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the second-largest university in the state. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 126 countries across the globe. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.