How Do We Have an Intern Program During a Pandemic?
It might seem crazy, but as COVID was hitting in March, and companies were moving remote, we had two internship positions posted and were in the interview process.
We were looking for a social media intern and a digital marketing intern, and as it turned out, their hiring process that was in no way normal.
We talked through whether it even made sense to even go through with the summer internship program, Should we scrap it altogether? One of the primary concerns was whether a rush to set up remote internships would mean sacrificing their learning experience, or contribution to the agency.
We Realized We’re Set Up for This
As an agency, our flexible work policy means we’ve had a remote infrastructure in place for quite a while, which we knew would make the process easier. And with two offices, we already have tools to communicate via video, online chat, or phone—when in person isn’t possible.
Business as (Un)usual
Normally a final interview would be conducted in our office to give the candidates a sense of our culture and space. Trying to finalize interviews with two new interns at company they haven’t ever stepped foot was a bit of a challenge.
Ultimately, there was going to be a learning curve—onboarding two interns remotely—but we wanted to give them the chance, so we gave it a shot.
Meet the Interns
Jack Cohen, Digital Marketing Intern
Hello, my name is Jack Cohen, and I am the Digital Marketing Intern at Antidote 71.
In May, I graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a degree in marketing. At the beginning of my senior year, I had no idea how my college experience would end.
After the first semester of my senior year, I had 19 credits left and the option to take a light course load and graduate in the summer/fall or take a big course load and be done in May. I decided on the latter and knew if I put enough hard work into my studies, I shouldn’t have any problem.
What should have been a time of interviews, full-time job searching, graduation, and saying goodbye to my friends was quickly changed by the global pandemic.
At the beginning of March, the possibilities seemed endless. By the end of the month, it seemed that I would be graduating into a job market with the smallest number of opportunities in years and an incredibly uncertain future.
Luckily, that wasn’t the case for me. Using UNL’s job search website ‘Handshake’, I was able to come across Antidote 71, a marketing agency expanding into Omaha and searching for an intern.
After an interview process that included several zoom calls, I accepted a job in an office I had never been to, with bosses and coworkers I had never met. My first day came in May and was a rough transition from my 3 A.M. to noon quarantine sleep schedule!
The much-needed structure became a routine quickly, and we adapted to work during Covid-19. Separated desks, split time between the office/home, and virtual meetings with our Sioux City office became the new norm.
I feel lucky to have found Antidote 71 during such a time of uncertainty. Working here has given me confidence in our ability to work and make the best of new experiences in such unprecedented times.
Jaydn Bernt, Social Media Intern
Hi, my name is Jaydn Bernt, and I’m the Social Media Intern at Antidote 71. In the fall, I will be a senior with a major in Advertising and Public Relations and minors in Sociology and Psychology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
The end of my junior year of college was brought to an abrupt end, to say the least. The uncertainty of possible internships and what the next school year would look like was a major stressor in my life.
Going into my senior year I wanted to get all the experience I can get before entering the real world. Luckily, Antidote 71 was able to interview me both in person and through video call, which led to offering me the social media intern position.
Accepting a position where I had only met one of the team members in person was a little nerve-wracking, but everyone on the team was welcoming. Before the global pandemic I was fully expecting to be working in an office every day, but working both from home and in the office has taught me how to be flexible when it comes to working in varied environments.
Whether I’m at my desk or on the couch, I feel like I can be productive. I still feel like I have gotten a lot of skills from being an intern during these times, even if the world isn’t “normal”. I feel lucky that during this time Antidote 71 was able to bring my fellow intern and me on and give us a great experience!
From Desks to Couches to Video
To get the interns acquainted with the rest of the team we started off with a virtual happy hour—we sometimes do these between Omaha & Sioux City, but usually the local staff is physically at one of the two locations. But, we needed to get to know them. And for them to get to know us, so this is the best we could do given the circumstances.
Our new interns were able to start on their predetermined May start date, and have been working both in the Omaha office (with appropriate social distancing) and from home.
The adjustment from working in the office to working from home has been an easy transition. With daily Zoom or Google Meet calls and communicating with other staff members through our online chat program, Cliq, we are able to stay connected and on top of projects like we normally would at our desks in Sioux City or Omaha.
As a company we were fortunate to be able find a way to continue to offer internships during this time. Training the next generation of marketers is part of our company culture.
The fact that we were still able to offer a valuable learning experience for both us and the interns is a testament to the strength of our team and our culture.
As difficult as the pandemic has been, this experience has made our company stronger than ever and we are fortunate to have had the outcome we did.
If you have been having doubts about offering internships, feel free to reach out to us. We’d love to talk to you about our experience with virtual interns. And how it might work to adapt for your company