With the uncertainty of COVID-19, many companies around the nation canceled or postponed summer internships. Fortunately, Spreetail was able to quickly transition to 100% virtual, allowing students to work from home.
As a hospitality, restaurant, tourism, and management student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, I was eager to jump-start my career by partaking in Spreetail’s 2020 summer internship program as an employee experience intern. Spreetail has so much to offer like a strong culture, an amazing community, and plenty of opportunities for growth. As I reflect on my time at Spreetail, I’ve compiled a few perks and challenges I faced while working from home as an intern.
- Personal Work Environment: Spreetail encourages us to create a productive work environment that works best for us. I can work anywhere I have stable wi-fi connection — at my desk in Lincoln, on my patio in Omaha, or a local coffee shop. After experiencing the “new normal” of remote work for two months, I discovered I wouldn’t mind working from home in the future but would love the option to go into the office. I also learned it’s important to work for a company that cares about its culture and fosters connections between coworkers. Spreetail makes it easy to want to go into the office because the people are so great!
- Increased Flexibility: Spreetail urges employees to focus on their mental health, giving me the flexibility to work when I am most productive and take mental and physical health breaks. Every day I set aside time to work out and relax without distractions. I start my day by getting up an hour early to have my morning coffee and watch the news. Over my lunch break I do a quick at home workout and at the end of the day I go on a run and make dinner. Because of Spreetail’s flexibility, I have been able to balance work, life, and school with a lot less stress.
- Improving My Time Management: Spreetail’s flexibility has also taught me to manage my time better. On top of being a full-time intern, I am also a full-time student. Balancing 12 credit hours and 40-hour work weeks this summer was difficult! To be successful at Spreetail and in school I needed to stay organized. Spreetail trained me to stay organized during this busy time by using my planner excessively. Every Sunday I plan my week hour by hour and it always keeps me on track. Spreetail’s virtual internship has taught me better time management, and because of this, I am more productive and stress free. Check out my favorite planner, the Simplified Planner Daily Edition by Emily Ley.
- Lack of Social Interaction: As an extrovert, it’s hard to not have the in-person interaction that I would normally get working in the office. Luckily, at Spreetail, we have social events like virtual coffee connect, happy hour, intern socials, and many more where my coworkers and I could build relationships. Throughout my summer internship, I planned coffee connects, intern socials, musical bingo, happy hours, and more! These events have been virtual and in-person with social distancing. While lack of in-person interaction has been difficult, I now have hands-on experience coming up with creative solutions for social distancing events and learned how to adapt in any circumstance.
- Lots of Distractions: While working from home, I have found it difficult to focus — especially when it’s nice outside or I have a lot of schoolwork. Thankfully, Spreetail’s talent development team has done an amazing job at helping support interns by offering multiple learning sessions on ways to stay focused. One great tip was to have someone hold you accountable and check in on you periodically throughout the day. For me, I am always in touch with my manager and my team holds a priority meeting each morning. Another way I stay focused and on task is by waking up early, putting away my phone, and listening to music. Check out my work from home playlist I listen to on Spotify. I will continue to use these methods after graduation as they have made me successful thus far balancing Spreetail’s summer internship program and school.
- Difficulty Disseminating Messages: Spreetail helped me understand how important communication in the workplace is. In a virtual world, we rely on email, video calls, and chats which can lead to miscommunication or a delayed response. Spreetail uses Microsoft Teams for all our communication needs and it has worked great. Teams allows you to see if people are available, away from their desk, in a meeting, or out of the office. Because Spreetail believes in good communication, if I ever had a question, my leader was always one short chat or call away.
Starting an internship at a new company can be a daunting task. Making new connections, understanding company goals, and helping them succeed — all while trying to find your passion. Add to that being 100% virtual, and it can be scary. At Spreetail, I learned to stay disciplined, focused, organized, and manage my time well.
Now that I have “mastered” the art of working from home, I am more than prepared for my future professional career. In just a few short weeks, I have learned the ins and outs of employee experience and logistically planning events. My favorite events to plan were the intern social events. These looked different throughout the summer with one being virtual and one being in-person. In planning these, I had the responsibility of creating unique virtual games and invitations, coordinating and booking local food trucks, and was responsible for set up on the day of. Each event had a great turn out and positive feedback. Because of this, I learned how important employee engagement and events are to each Spreetailer’s work from home experience. The impact these events had on our team’s camaraderie and overall engagement shows in their work. This is how I discovered my passion for corporate event planning.
Although working from home is not how I initially anticipated my internship going, Spreetail has done a fantastic job of making me feel welcomed and supported throughout. I will be able to use everything Spreetail has taught me for my future career, and I cannot wait to see what my future holds.