It’s been an adjustment process for students, faculty, and staff transitioning to life online. Internships are no exception! In this series, we’re going in-depth with UChicago students about their remote internships. Over the course of the summer, I asked four friends with different majors and career paths to answer a few questions about their experiences.
Last, but certainly not least, we have Brianna, third-year student from Winnetka, IL. She is double majoring in Philosophy and Economics with a Specialization in Business.
Sam (me): What type of organization are you working for/which organization are you working for?
Brianna: Harrison Street Real Estate Capital
S: What is your internship role?
B: I am an intern on the Transactions team at Harrison Street. This is the team responsible for sourcing, analyzing, and closing transactions across all assets within the firm’s areas of specialty real estate.
S: What does a typical day look like?
B: Every day is different, but I normally start my day with a Zoom call, either with the entire Transactions team or a certain development area, work on a model for an investment and walk through it with other interns, attend another Zoom meeting to be introduced to a new team at Harrison Street, and then work on due diligence or any other miscellaneous tasks to support my group.
S: What are the difficulties of performing your internship online? What are the advantages/benefits?
B: I think one of the greatest difficulties for any intern working virtually is genuinely connecting with others and getting a feel for the culture and working environment of the firm. Zoom calls have revealed to me that it’s impossible to replicate an entire office through the computer. Another difficulty is knowing how to walk the line between too much and too little communication. On my first day of work, my intern leaders told me I should err on the side of over-communication to identify any problems from the get-go, but no two organizations and managers are the same. I think clearly outlining expectations for communication from the beginning is crucial.
On the flip side, performing an internship online comes with opportunities to tailor one’s schedule for maximum productivity and personal time. First, the commute to the office is eliminated and you have the ability to personalize lunch/short breaks. My work is more project-based with a set deadline and nobody is micromanaging my schedule at home, so I can maximize my bouts of productivity but also take the space and time to care for myself when I need to. Moreover, working virtually allows me to showcase my proactivity, resourcefulness, and creativity. Harrison Street encouraged interns to reach out to anybody at the firm for a quick Zoom coffee chat to show our initiative. In addition, learning how to make ourselves useful without constantly asking our intern leaders for new work is a way to exemplify creativity and nimbleness.
S: Favorite way to connect with people during this time?
B: My favorite way to connect with people during this time has been to have socially distanced backyard fire pit hangouts with my friends to roast marshmallows and make s'mores and hang out.
Brianna’s experience provides great insight into how a finance internship can be structured in a remote setting! I want to give a big thank you to her, Tinyan, Brian, and Ryan for taking the time to talk about their experiences this summer! As you can see, remote internships can take many different forms, and these four UChicago students have made the best of theirs!