Working from home is a challenge for everyone used to spending their weekdays in an office, but there are unique challenges associated with starting a fresh internship entirely remotely. Here we hear from our three interns; Afua on the Dev team, Kira on the Design team, and Samir on the Accounts team about their experiences interning remotely with A&S.
From pass the remote to working remote: my time working at A&S from home
I think we can all recall the time when we were all commuting to work and school, visiting friends and family and buying toilet paper without a care. The reality that we’ve all become so accustomed to working remotely sunk in when during a one-on-one with our A&S Director of Operations MK, she asked how I found my onboarding process because it had been remote…
I started my current position as a Web Development Intern with Art & Science on August 4 (completely remote) after graduating from Juno College in April (partially remote). My interviews were done over Google Hangouts, and all communication with my amazing team at A&S is done on either Slack, Zoom, or Google Hangouts. I’ve technically met all my coworkers without physically meeting them in person (with the exception of the lovely Kat and Natalia, at a distance of course) when I went by the office during my second week.
So when MK asked about my onboarding process so far, without skipping a beat I told her it had been seamless. As a developer, 101% of my work is based on or around a computer, and the only aspect lost on the remote aspect of the job was the chance to meet my team in person during our daily meetings. The team at A&S has streamlined the onboarding process with the help of tools we already had (Zoom, Calendars, Google Drive, etc) in order to fill in the gaps for my workflow. As a dev, my days start with a group call to set up the tasks for the day, use of Slack and all its channels to stay up to date on different projects and direct contact with team members I might have been able to do in person, and the bulk of work on projects takes place on Confluence, JIRA, and Bitbucket.
Do I kind of miss commuting, trying out coffee places down Spadina, and sharing a physical space with people I work with from my daily trip from Brampton to Juno College? (Juno College is down the street from A&S) I absolutely do! But I do acknowledge the benefits of working from home from the money saved on my commute (my bed is inches from my work desk), and lunch (I eat healthier at home), to my own personal washroom and time saved getting ready for work. When safety permits, I look forward to meeting the team in the future and have been enjoying my WFH experience so far!
A social butterfly spreads his virtual wings
I just started my internship at A&S at the start of August, and it was definitely strange being onboarded to a new job entirely remotely. I’d been remotely working in my previous job since March, but starting a new one remotely is an entirely different beast.
I’m a person who typically thrives on casual conversations and asking a lot of questions to whoever has the misfortune of sitting beside me, so it’s been a challenge not having that. Firing off a quick Slack message to someone to ask is also very effective, but I do miss the ease of talking to your neighbour.
The work itself is very interesting. I’m new to the agency world, so learning what A&S does as a digital agency and how it functions internally has been a bit of a learning curve. I don’t have a point of reference for what this would be like in-person, but it has been very interesting to learn about the agency. The challenges we’re trying to solve on the accounts team are unique as well and the pandemic has shifted client priorities on projects. These new wants and constraints combined with the lack of any precedent for the situation the world is currently in have opened the door to both creative solutions and creative processes to arrive at those solutions. My old role was also external-facing and much of it was conducted over the phone or video calls, so interacting with others remotely isn’t new to me, but having to brainstorm on a Google Doc and not being able to just hop into a meeting room to hash something out is a challenge. It does force you to hold yourself accountable with your time and maintain focus without the office environment, which has been interesting.
It’s also a lot more difficult to get to know your coworkers! I came to A&S partly because I have a really good friend who works here and she’s raved about how great the people are. Being entirely remote, I haven’t had the chance to experience that as much as I would have liked in my first couple weeks. Now that I’m nearing a month of the internship though, peoples’ personalities are starting to show through. It just took a little longer than it might have in person. Everyone here has been incredibly welcoming and understanding of these challenges, however, and I can really see the incredible personalities and great workplace culture coming though despite the challenges of working remotely.
Reading the virtual room; an introvert interning remotely
Back in June, I had the pleasure of joining the team at Art & Science. Originally, my internship was supposed to begin back in April, but due to Covid-19 everything changed rather quickly. Many of my classmates from school were upset about having to do their internship remotely, and many weren’t able to find an internship at all during this pandemic.
At first I was hesitant about completing my 3 month internship out of office, as I feared that I may miss out on some very important in-person experiences. To my surprise, I don’t believe that I missed out at all; if anything I learned more about myself and the field of work.
This is my first job in the industry, and wow, it was an amazing experience! Of course I went through some challenges along the way, and one of the biggest was the communication barrier. Not being able to talk with people face to face can be tough in a fast paced work environment, especially when you haven’t met the majority of your coworkers. I’m quite a shy person, so for me it was difficult to put myself out there when everyone you want to get to know is separated by a screen. It can also be quite tricky to read someone’s message and also read their emotion. Are they happy? Upset? Or just having a busy day? I tend to overthink, so this really got to me at times. Over time as I got to know everyone better, I was able to communicate more efficiently with my teammates. At Art & Science, we use Slack to communicate throughout the day on our daily activities. I had only used Slack a few times before, so I ended up learning a lot about the interface and how to utilize it best during my daily routines. Everyone at A&S was super supportive in welcoming me to my new home and I quickly opened up. I learned that you should never be afraid to ask someone a question or ask them to clarify something. You aren’t bothering them. They are there to help you, and you are there to learn! Always take notes and make lists, too! It also really helped me to recognize that they were once in the same boat as me; a young student wondering which direction their career would take them. This eased my mind a bit so that I was in the right mindset to do the best work I could and not stress about what the future might look like. I’m thankful that I was able to learn so much about myself, my capabilities and the industry though Art & Science.
By being at home I also was able to work very efficiently. At first it was tough to be home all day everyday with my only commute to work was to walk from my bedroom to my living room. I found that it was really helpful to listen to music or a podcast while working. I made an upbeat playlist that kept me on track and motivated. Not only did I get more work done, but the days went by quickly!
If my only highlight of 2020 is my internship at Art & Science, I will be more than satisfied. I am sad that my time at A&S is coming to an end, but I am so thankful for the time I had with this tight knit talented team and the knowledge they have given me. Art & Science will always be a part of me and even though the pandemic changed the way in which I learned, I wouldn’t change anything about my experience.