Unique Lessons from Remote Internships

Mindy Kim
June 2, 2021

With many schools and job opportunities shifting to online participation, NAF saw the importance of continuing its internship opportunities and pivoting to the virtual space. This spring, NAF hosted 12 interns for our virtual internship program. From learning and developing new skills, our interns gained knowledge from a unique opportunity that they perhaps would not have gained through a traditional experience.

One of the biggest benefits of a virtual internship that would not have happened in person, according to our interns, was getting to meet professionals and fellow NAF students from all across the country.

“I met so many people during my time as an intern, I like to call it ‘traveling from home’ because I was able to hop from one meeting to the next. So, one day I’m in Oklahoma, the next minute I’m in Texas,” Deena J., our NAF Next intern, said.

The distance between interns may have been great, but like with any internship, interns still had to find ways to work well together. This was the case for Alron D. and Calvin D., who were paired together as digitizing content interns. Alron is from Connecticut and Calvin is from North Carolina. The experience taught them how to work as a team and to overcome virtual problems.

“Working with someone a couple hundred miles away from you is something that we really had no clue how to do; we had never done it before,” said Alron. “I was working with pretty much a complete stranger, but we overcame, we adapted. Over the course of time, we learned each other’s strengths and weaknesses and how we could play off of each other’s skills.”

For some of our interns, like Deena or Molly M., a NAF Next intern, this was their first-ever professional experience, introducing them to corporate culture and the world of work. Their venture into remote work was made easier by their supervisors. Despite only meeting them virtually, interns found that their NAF supervisors were very accommodating and helpful, which helped interns like Molly M. work on her future ready skills.

“I had never had a true job experience with being able to see different aspects of an organization and working towards a common goal,” said Molly. “This internship and my supervisor helped me to develop my character and prepared me for college and my future workspace.”

Molly’s internship partner, Jordan T., also found that he learned so much from the NAF staff and their own experiences.

“One thing I took note of was the people I was meeting. When we discussed our project, I was able to gain new perspectives on how they saw what we were working on. I also wanted to learn how to gain different perspectives from those at NAF,” said Jordan.

Many interns stated how important it was to connect with their peers who were hired alongside them. Calvin, said, “I really haven’t been in school and haven’t seen many of my classmates for almost a year now. This internship gave me an opportunity to speak to other interns, where we took 30 minutes to 45 minutes on Friday just to talk with each other about anything and that was a little morale boost!”

It’s unclear if virtual internships will stick around in our post-pandemic world, but one thing is for sure: these high school interns were able to develop professional skills they otherwise wouldn’t have had the chance to. High school students should be given the chance to explore their passions, learn from mentors, and build their networks—whether that’s in our offices when it’s safe to return or in a virtual setting.

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Mindy is a NAF alumna and the Email Marketing Coordinator at NAF. She is passionate about all things related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and access.

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