Remote Internships Help College Students Gain Valuable Experience

FM Global and Rhode Island Monthly interns relay their experiences working as virtual interns for the summer.

Students completed remote internships at FM Global, Rhode Island Monthly and other companies this summer. Photo from Getty Images.

For many students throughout Rhode Island, the COVID-19 pandemic and need to social distance caused the cancellation of summer internships. However, some opportunities were transformed into remote learning experiences.

FM Global, a property insurance company in Johnston, is just one of the many local companies that rearranged its internship program, allowing students to complete it remotely. The company offers internships in a variety of fields, allowing students to choose which best fit their majors at the universities they attend. 

Lauren Poirier, a senior public relations and English student at the University of Rhode Island says that she was grateful to still be able to gain experience this summer, even in a non-traditional way. Poirier is an intern in the public relations department at FM Global and says she learned really valuable lessons about flexibility and communication by working remotely.

“One of the biggest challenges for me has been not being able to interact face-to-face with my coworkers and fellow interns,” Poirier says. “However, while in-person human connection will never go out of style, everyone is almost always available to me, either through email, phone or video chat. Though we aren’t in the office, I feel I’ve been able to connect and build relationships with my coworkers just as thoroughly as if we were. This is a relief, as it seems likely working from home will become more prevalent in the future.”

According to Poirier, the internship has not only taught her more about her chosen field but a lot about being self-sufficient and disciplined.

“I have to appropriately manage my own time, ignore distractions and problem-solve technology malfunctions,” Poirier says. 

For Michaela McGuirl, a law student at Roger Williams University School of Law, becoming a legal intern in FM Global’s Litigation and Corporate Affairs department was ideal and has pushed her to “expand and improve research and writing skills.”

“My job requires me to be proactive to seek opportunities and to not hesitate to ask questions,” she says, “because if I were not as proactive, I would not be able to submit assignments in a timely manner and it would be poor communication and work ethic on my part.”

Internal audit intern Carlos Curi said he was unsure of what to expect, as this remote learning experience is his first internship. However, being part of a team, and learning in a hands-on way has been beneficial to him both professionally and socially.

“This internship has given me so much more insight into how things work,” Curi says. “These real-life examples really helped a lot ‘click’ for me. Despite being remote from all of my coworkers, I feel as though I’ve also become a bit more social. I mean I can’t take all of the credit, there are some very awesome people on my team.  They made the social part a lot easier for me.”

Rhode Island Monthly also transitioned to remote internships for the summer. This enabled interns to contribute to the magazine’s daily blog as well as write pieces for the monthly print issue of the magazine and custom publications.

Emma Bartlett, a history and public/professional writing student at Roger Williams University says that this experience has been great for communication skills, not only through writing, but also through speaking to interview subjects and editors.

From the editorial standpoint, not only are you communicating to readers through your articles, but you’re using more written communication with editors and individuals you’re contacting for stories,” Bartlett says. “The benefit of being able to clearly communicate through writing is important and I think that aspect of the internship was enhanced since it was all virtual.”

These internships have allowed students to gain experience but also get a feel for the industry they are hoping to work in in the future. Rhode Island Monthly intern Isabelle Paquette, an English and media studies student at Vassar College, says she is glad to have been able to work in the field in the real world.

“I’ve acquired better writing techniques and marketing strategies, communication and fact-checking skills, creativity, encouragement and overall learned what it’s like to be a part of an online publication with due dates and multiple things happening at once,” Paquette says.

I am also a remote intern at Rhode Island Monthly, and as a senior journalism, writing and rhetoric and Italian student at the University of Rhode Island, this internship was beneficial for learning better interviewing skills and networking throughout the state.

I have learned so much about Rhode Island and the wonderful people in it. Getting to interact with business owners and locals, and feature the inspirational and interesting stories of individuals, events and other news has been so exciting. I’m so glad that I got to learn and improve in my field while continuing to share these stories in a safe way.

 

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