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Interning Remotely During A Pandemic: BOOQED Edition

July 27, 2020

As an extension to remote working, there's also remote interning. When your job is to run errands, shadow other employees, and learn the ways of the professional world, adapting to the new ways of virtual interning can be a difficult transition when students are used to interning in-person.

The five interns of BOOQED for the summer of 2020 are eager to share their experiences and insights to interning here, and how their experiences have been shaped by the pandemic.

Introducing... BOOQED’s Summer 2020 Interns

Jenny Lee, a student of Economics at Yonsei University, is interning as a research and product intern. Originally from Korea, Jenny is currently an exchange student in Singapore and went for this internship opportunity hoping to be more productive during WFH times. “BOOQED deals with spaces, and it would be important in the future due to COVID-19 to build a new space paradigm”, she said, as she explained why she wanted to intern here.

Graphic design student and intern, Megan Tam, helps fulfill the company’s visual design needs. She works on web design, collateral design, creating Instagram posts, and more. The Penn State University student had her initial plans of interning in the US cancelled due to COVID-19. Looking on the bright side, she finds benefits in having a remote internship, where communication skills can be even more effectively built online.

Rushabh Bohra, a business analyst intern and a chemical engineering student from the University of Michigan, faced the same woe of a last-minute cancel in internship opportunities. However, remote internships given by companies like BOOQED dismisses those internship worries from students. Rushabh looks to learn closely with start-up leaders, where he felt like a smaller company can provide more insightful experiences.

Three of our five interns: Rushabh, Jenny and Megan

This may be a difficult transition for seasoned interns like Jenny, Megan and Rushabh, from a normal internship to a virtual one, but for Lai Wong and Denzel Zhang, the perspective is different. Both as content marketing interns interning for the very first time, this remote internship with BOOQED is shaping their idea of what an “internship” is.

Having never even met the whole team in-person, Lai admitted that it’s “not what I imagined an internship would be like. But it is an introvert’s dream to not have constant social interactions with the team.” Denzel studies visual communication and graphic design at Zhuhai University, while Lai is an English student at University College London, both majoring in vastly different fields while achieving the same goals for the BOOQED team.

The two content interns' desks. Not only are they doing similar work, they are similar in their wooden tables and coffee drinking habits.

Despite coming from different backgrounds and interests, they are all facing the same unusualness of a remote internship. One thing they can agree on is the abundance of skills and knowledge that they can acquire through working with BOOQED.

There’s a First Time for Everything

For the five of them, it is their first time truly interning remotely, and they were astonished at the amount of freedom they received on their tasks. Creative freedom is extremely important when it comes to visual arts and writing. “Team members actually trust our decisions and our judgements,” said Megan, and Rushabh elaborated by comparing this experience to his previous internships in a larger company.

Instead of being told what do, Rushabh enjoys pitching his innovative ideas and engage with other team members like an equal. “Normal internships are judged by the hour, while BOOQED judges by the quality of your work without micromanaging your use of time. The metric is based on output,” he explained and added that BOOQED’s high expectations were a good motivator for him to do his best.

Jenny's tasks consist of an abundance of Zoom meetings and research work.

 

In addition to this being their first virtual internships, this was also everyone's first-time dipping into the tech startup world. Lai, an English major, never would have imagined working at anything outside of the creative industry. But BOOQED has opened another door by introducing the opportunities of many other fields. As someone with no experience at all with proptech (or any tech) a few months ago, Lai is now quite confident in her skills in writing engaging pieces about real estate and coworking.

Another aspect important in content writing other than the idea is the methodology. Denzel is proud of the fact his speed in article writing went from being on the slower side to completing an article a day. An increase in speed comes in useful for aspiring writers like them, of course, while upping the quality too.

Virtual Difficulties

Of course, along with every internship, especially with this new virtual method, there are difficulties. The intern’s troubles are with learning styles, communication, self-discipline, time-management and organization. As visual learners, Jenny and Megan struggle with the ambiguity of things when they're not visualised, especially for designs. There is a difficulty in expressing creative ideas as well when people can’t gather to discuss due to social distancing rules.

Rushabh lives nocturnally; forcing himself to focus in the morning is hard, but helpful in adjusting his internal clock. He has to be more organized with his ideas as well since he must effectively convey all his thoughts within his weekly hour-long meetings.

Rushabh focuses on assisting the client services team with business analytics. As you can see, he's working in daylight.

With Denzel, he is working on managing his time better in writing articles and blocking his work schedule. Lai finds separating her work-life and personal-life difficult, where she’ll work through the night unknowingly (like how she’s writing this article right now).

Despite the occasional obstacles with virtual work, it is a good opportunity to learn from the mistakes you made in an internship, rather than making those mistakes in a real job.

A Day in a Life of a BOOQED Intern

Meetings are always on the agenda for Jenny and Rushabh. Calls every day on planning, task-assigning, and calls where interns can listen in to learn passively as well. For content creators like Megan and Lai, tools like Airtable and Slack are used for content planning, brainstorming, and general inquiries for projects. Denzel travels to BOOQED’s Shenzhen office for his internship tasks of content writing and sales, where he engages with locals and collects market research in-person.

Lai and Megan both use Airtable to schedule content. Buffer is used for Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter posts, while Later is for Instagram.

Megan's workspace as BOOQED's graphic design intern.

Team members at BOOQED are motivated and eager to help the interns grow; whether it’s questions, information, or even just memes, team members constantly interact and engage on mediums like Slack to mimic a real-life internship. Friday team building occurs weekly, where one person hosts an activity for the whole team to do and bond. The interns were pleasantly surprised at how friendly everyone was, hence, the new members were able to feel part of the BOOQED family in no time.

“BOOQED values what we think, and they actually care about young people’s ideas,” Megan remarked. BOOQED gives their interns a lot of responsibilities with confidence, allowing them to go hands-on with many tasks. The perfect way to learn is to do it actively, where interns can immerse fully in their internship experience.

Denzel is also glad to get diversity in experience. “I get to go to bars and socialize with locals for research, it’s great fun for me too,” exclaims Denzel as he chats with us by the pool. (Working from anywhere is great as long as things get done, as he knows!)

Final Thoughts

Something all the interns can agree on is that BOOQED values their contributions. They give them creative freedom and chances to take on difficult tasks. To say that they learned a lot is an understatement.

Remote internships can just be as fulfilling as a physical internship when these unprecedented times call for alternatives. Remote internships help you learn how to work flexibly, and how to self-discipline yourself to work without constant supervision. As a generation of night owls and constant digital distractions, student interns during the COVID-19 era have also learned how to focus and self-motivate. These are essential skills to have in the first steps of their career trajectory.

As technology is shaping our better future, tech-enabled companies should consider doing remote internships where they are bettering the future of our workforce.