Student Spotlight: Emma Heise

This week we’re spotlighting Emma Heise, a junior majoring in psychology and entrepreneurship with a minor in statistical methods. Emma recently worked virtually as a member experience intern at Uncharted Learning in Barrington, IL. She is excited to share her virtual internship advice with us!

  • Majors: Psychology and Entrepreneurship
  • Minors: Statistical Methods
  • Internship/Job Title: Member Experience Intern
  • Company: Uncharted Learning
  • Location: Barrington, IL

What were your biggest takeaways from a virtual internship?

I definitely learned how to balance autonomy and collaboration. When to ask questions, and when to figure things out on your own. When you are working virtually, you aren’t able to casually ask questions in the office, or run into your manager in the hallway. So, it takes initiative to ask the things you want to know. You have to purposefully make time or meetings with the other people in the office. It also means taking those answers and then being able to run with them. Taking the projects and tasks said in meetings and making them your own. I was able to take my tasks and do them by myself, and then go to a meeting present where I was at, and get feedback from the team and then continue to work on it. You have much more ownership than if you were in the office and people were consistently looking over your shoulder. I also, created a portfolio after my internship while it was still fresh in my mind. Now I have something to show for what I did in the summer in my future interviews as well as ways to connect my past experiences to future ones.

What do you wish you had known before you started your virtual internship?

I wish I had known how much more you would have to push for the social interactions and social aspects of an internship. I asked to have lunch with everyone in the office at least once just to create those connections. Even though we were in different parts of the country and eating different food, we were able to sit down and connect. I think you miss those “water cooler” conversations, so you have to be much more intentional in your interactions during the internship. If I didn’t ask for something, I wasn’t going to get it. Not because they didn’t care or didn’t have the resources, but because no one else would know I was struggling if I didn’t voice it.

Do you think you were able to get out of the internship the same amount of learning and opportunities that you would have if it was in-person?

Honestly, yes. I think a lot of it was just recognizing that it might be a different type of learning. Typically, at Uncharted Learning, they hold a huge event for all of their members in the summer, however, this year it was a virtual event. So, instead of the usual event logistics or in real-time event social media posts, I was instead learning how to put on a virtual event. Organizing for people in different time zones and with different technological abilities, as well as curating a whole social media schedule. I was still problem defining and problem-solving, but it was just for different types of problems.

How would you suggest to prepare for a virtual internship?

I would start with pretty constant communication with the people you are going to work with before you start. If you just show up to the first meeting without a familiar face, it feels a lot more nerve-wracking. You can even ask to meet just with your manager before a whole team meeting if you feel like it would make you more comfortable. I would also suggest getting comfortable asking questions. It is just you sitting in the room, so if you have questions, you are going to have to ask them. The worst thing is to just get stuck and not ask where to go next. Then you end up behind on the things you need to complete. The last thing I would recommend is to be comfortable with not knowing everything. An internship is about learning and experiencing new things. You aren’t expected to know absolutely everything, and your manager and team will be happy to help you out. Remember, just ask!