I feel like it’s fair to assume that every single person had some kind of plan or idea he or she was looking forward to completing or participating in this summer. A plan that unfortunately isn’t happening anymore, due to the circumstances surrounding COVID-19.
Ever since I was a senior in high school, I knew I wanted to major in International Business. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted my reach to extend past the United States. I wanted to learn about different cultures, languages, food, and anything else unique to a certain country. Consequently, I decided I would learn Italian and study abroad in Italy for an extended period of time my junior year of college. So, for the next three years of college, I researched every program available to me and saved half of every paycheck I received to make sure my summer in Italy would be exceptional. My university was even piloting a program for me to be the first international intern sent through the university study abroad program. As the spring semester rolled around, I began preparing to live in Italy May-July of 2020. I was beyond excited, not only because of the new program, but because I was finally about to be in the place I had spent three years working to get to. You can imagine my disappointment when I was told it would no longer be a possibility. I say all of that to preface -- some of the greatest opportunities come from the greatest disappointments.
Of course, I would love to live in Italy for almost three months, but had that happened, I would have missed out on the opportunity to experience what working in international business would really be like through my virtual internship with CEA. The reality of being an International Business major is that there might be some travel, but you can probably expect for most of the correspondences between countries to be virtual, which is exactly the premise of this virtual internship. If you have the opportunity to live in another country and experience full cultural immersion, I always recommend that. I loved the opportunity I had to study abroad. However, if you want to gain experience that will be most applicable to your future career path, I would choose the virtual internship.
There are challenges unique to a virtual internship. While both offer the intercultural communication aspect, a virtual internship includes an added level of difficulty when interaction with supervisors is limited to a virtual platform. On the other hand, you’re able to learn new technologies, set your own schedule and hours “in the office.” This internship requires a lot of self-discipline and organization in order to stay on top of assignments and whatever else may be happening in a post-COVID world. Overall, you get out of it what you put into it. If you are looking to take advantage of a unique opportunity to experience the most growth and challenge yourself, a virtual internship is perfect. You can also find ways to integrate the host country’s culture into your everyday life. Personally, I bought Italian coffee and make myself a latte almost every day. Even Italian-branded coffee seems to taste better!
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Mallory Lambert is a CEA Virtual Internship student who is currently attending the University of Oklahoma.
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