Tafadzwa Dave, a student at the United States International University-Africa in Kenya, recently completed two virtual internships with Intern Abroad HQ. Through these experiences, Tafadzwa gained diverse international career experience on her Remote Psychology Internship out of Spain and a Remote International Business & HR Internship out of India. Here, Tafadzwa shares gems from her experiences, so that others can gain insight into what it’s like to intern online.
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Online Psychology Internship out of Spain
For my first internship, I joined an expert Psychology team that works with a professional Football Club in Spain remotely. My internship role required me to work closely with the Director of International Business and help maintain the general functioning of the Club, scheduling of learning sessions and educational program management.
Settling in to a remote internship
For my first meetings with my internship coordinator and supervisor, I have to admit that I was a bit nervous, but after talking to them, I felt relaxed and comfortable. After I was introduced to the Football Club, how it works and its history, I felt confident and excited about the internship.
Embracing cultural diversity
My remote internship experience was great! I met people from all over the world, as the Football Club has people from the United Kingdom, Zimbabwe, Russia, Spain, South Korea and more. I found the cultural differences and language barriers to be fascinating, challenging and interesting.
Understanding all the different accents was challenging at times, and I quickly realized that having a positive attitude, paying attention and observing both verbal and non-verbal cues were critical in communicating with everyone.
Although we come from different backgrounds, there were also cultural similarities. I noticed that we all have something in common - everyone values respect, honesty, teamwork, effective communication and good relationships.
Interning remotely: Expectation vs. reality
Before starting my remote internship, I assumed that working online would be extremely difficult, however it wasn’t like that at all. It was a very collaborative environment and I had the opportunity to learn from others and share my ideas openly.
Highlights & learnings from my virtual internship
My highlight from this internship was interacting with psychology professionals in the field of applied psychology with such diverse backgrounds. It helped me grow and understand what it’s really like working in a professional environment.
Overall, everything went really well. This remote internship has made me more capable of working in any situation or environment where psychology can be applied - I can now update my resume with the new skills I gained, and I can confidently say that working for a big well-known organization is great.
My most significant learning points were email etiquette, self-discipline, communication, adaptability, diversity and open-mindedness. I learned to write professional emails, challenge myself, know my strengths and weaknesses, improve my skills (i.e. communication, creativity, patience, research and presentation skills) and think critically about certain things.
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If you’re considering a virtual internship…
The piece of advice that I would give is that having a positive attitude and being flexible matters! These two aspects can help an individual to go a long way in developing a growth mindset. Embracing other cultures, being adaptable, flexible and open-minded are also critical aspects when working in a culturally diverse setting.
Doing a remote internship requires commitment as everything is done online. Discipline is important, particularly making sure that tasks are completed on time. I had to learn first how things were being conducted and then was able to adapt and improve my communication skills. This made me productive in whatever I was doing and made me feel confident.
Online Business & HR Internship out of India
I chose the Virtual International Business Internship out of India because I wanted to gain more insight into how Organizational Psychology works and see HR practices in real-life situations. Choosing this internship program has enabled me to grow and work out what I want to do in my future career.
Settling into an online internship
The first week of my internship experience was amazing. I learned about what my host organization does, my duties as an intern and how internships work in general. I got a warm welcome that made me feel a sense of belonging and part of the team.
Settling into a remote internship hosted out of India, I did not feel challenged by any cultural differences. My internship supervisor made sure that I was prepared with the cultural norms of the organization and India at large. Multiculturalism within my internship placement was greatly supported as there were interns from all over the world with varying perspectives.
Day-to-day tasks during my virtual internship
My online internship role involved various tasks such as career counselling, organizational counseling, psychometric assessments, corporate counseling, recruiting, researching and providing personal insights about the ongoing training and courses. I helped the organization select great candidates suitable for the various positions it offers and I helped individuals work out what kind of career they want to go for.
Building essential online communication skills
My internship supervisor and I always communicated through video calls and used emails and messaging to submit documents and schedule meetings. I used a Google calendar to keep track of meeting times with my supervisor and team members.
To boost morale among the interns, we regularly took breaks, provided feedback and shared information. We built rapport and respect for each other and gave support to each other, despite being in a remote environment.
Remote internship expectations vs. reality
Before I started this internship, I expected it to be more rigid and formal. However, it was flexible and everyone I worked with was welcoming. I met so many professionals, all of whom had so much respect and valued everyone’s ideas. I had so many opportunities to contribute my thoughts, and everyone was willing to listen which made me feel valued and confident.
A memorable moment was when I had an interview with business professionals who had been in the field for a long time. It was my first time interviewing respected professionals, so it definitely pushed me out of my comfort-zone. Along the way, my internship supervisor had a lot of confidence and trust in me that I could do it. I felt honored by how these professionals interacted with me and the respect they gave me, not minding my age or level of profession.
My advice to myself and others is to have an open mind - being willing to learn from different individuals can be a great opportunity to grow, and being flexible and enjoying the moment makes it easy to adapt to different aspects of life.
Doing this online internship wasn’t an easy task, but the people I met gave me motivation, taught me not to give up and pushed me to show gratitude no matter what the circumstances. I felt motivated to complete tasks that were assigned to me on time, to take newly assigned projects that were available, and also had an opportunity to bring out my ideas. This internship has allowed me to learn more skills that are necessary for the field of Business and HR.
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Highlights & learnings from my international internship
The elements I enjoyed the most were the virtual meetings I had with my supervisor and other interns, doing interviews and listening to other people. The virtual meetings enabled me to express myself freely, to be heard, obtain instant feedback and interact with other interns freely. I enjoyed holding interviews with other professionals, which improved my self-confidence, communication and listening skills.
I’ve also acquired a variety of skills that can be applied to so many different aspects of life, whether it’s in a professional or personal setting. I want a profession in the field of Organizational Psychology, and I believe the skills I have gained during my internships are necessary and will help me succeed in my career field.
Overall, my internship gave me a greater understanding of how an organization operates. From here, my goal is to continue learning more within my field of interest by interacting with people who are already working in that field.
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