Sam Woods ’20
Hometown: Columbia, SC
Major: Communication | Minor: Political Science
When Sam first secured her internship, she was expecting it to be in person. But like so many other students here at the College of Charleston and across the nation, everything changed when the coronavirus pandemic spread rapidly throughout the United States. The internship was switched over to being remote, she was provided a work laptop from the company, and then she had a wait a short period as the internship program finalized its transition to being fully remote.
Sam reflected that, “Interning during a pandemic definitely was an interesting experience and the main take away I got from it was you have to stay flexible and you have to stay positive no matter what is thrown your way. There was so much that changed in just a couple of months that none of us could expect and you just have to work that much harder to stay on top and keep staying motivated.” Keep scrolling to see how this recently graduated COMM major tackled an uncertain time with a remote internship.
Sam’s Summer 2020 Internship During a Pandemic
Company: Arizona Exposition & State Fair
Internship Title: Sponsorship Coordinator
Location: Remote (company based in Phoenix, AZ)
Hours Per Week: 12 hours
Academic Credit? Yes – COMM 495: Field Internship
What did you do for your internship? My main task during this internship is to research clients and locally sponsored events, including cold calling to get people interested in sponsoring different events at the fair. I also create recaps for past clients of the fair and compare the originally contracted investments to the final outcome of digital impressions and marketing metrics the Arizona fair used to exceed expectations. I report to the Marketing Partnerships Manager of the Arizona State Fair.
What is your favorite part of your internship? My favorite part of this internship is networking with different companies and working to create lasting client relationships with the Arizona State Fair. It really helps to see the importance of networking on a larger scale and how important good communication skills are to be successful.
What was it like being remote? This internship was originally supposed to be in person, but it ultimately switched over to a remote internship. Each of the interns was given work laptops from the company because it’s a state program so all of our work and documents have to be on their specific software. We had a team meeting every morning on Google Meet and then we broke apart and did our own work for the rest of the day. While it was a difficult transition doing everything online, it has been really helpful to put professional skills at work. Working from home there’s minimal direct supervision, you manage your own work time, you organize your own work practices, you’re in charge of reaching out to your advisor, so even though it’s done at home it pushes professional development and work experience forward.
Was it hard to find a summer internship? Yes! This was honestly very stressful for me since I knew I needed a summer internship and a lot of the jobs I applied for were canceled due to the pandemic. Even for this internship I secured, there was a long transition period between getting hired and working on the logistics of what working from home would like and actually getting started to work.
Did you experience difficulties completing your internship during COVID-19? The biggest challenge to complete this internship was working towards an event that we were not sure what the outcome will look like. Our whole team has been worked hard to get around the challenge of creating a fair that is socially distanced and approved by the health department. Also, a lot of companies that I reached out to had budget cuts in marketing due to COVID, so we had to work to ease the uncertainties of everything going on and still figure out how we can create a reliable sponsorship relationship during these trying times.
What is your advice to COMM students looking to take a Fall 2020 internship during a pandemic? Be open to new experiences! It was very stressful when I was first applying and got so many apology emails that they were unable to continue their internship opportunity, but I kept searching and kept applying. Out of all the internships I applied for, I did not expect to work as a sponsorship coordinator for the state fair, but it was such a great experience and I learned so much from it.
Last summer, I worked at the Charter Institute at Erskine doing communications for their Federal Programs (another internship I was surprised to get into). Over the summer I worked in their office and when it was time to head back to Charleston, they offered to let me continue to work remotely for them. I learned that working remotely definitely makes a big difference in how you manage your own time and responsibilities and furthers your professional skills when you’re not directly working under someone. I highly advise taking as many internships as you can while you’re in school because it not only furthers your experience in your field but it grows your network which is such an important skill to have.