The challenges of offering internships in a post-pandemic, remote-working era

This last summer was the first time that SE10 had an intern again since after the COVID-19 pandemic started and the company adopted remote work across all three offices. The team was excited to welcome Sydni Bratthauar, a Digital Communication and Multimedia student from John Carroll University, who is passionate about reading and writing and eager to learn about the public relations world.

It did not take the U.S. team long after starting to plan Sydni’s tasks for her two-month internship to realize that there was a new, interesting challenge ahead — how to engage someone with little experience in the working environment when there is no in-person contact with coworkers? How would working remotely affect her experience?

SE10’s U.S. office used to be at the Wrigley Building, one of the most beautiful landmarks in Chicago, with breathtaking views of the Chicago River and Lake Michigan, where boats cross all day long. The office location was, in fact, a very attractive point for candidates back in the day when the rule was sitting in office five days a week. Now that remote work is a broad reality, even the recruitment process as we know it has gone through changes. And although many appreciate not having to endure the (sometimes very long) commute to work, for young people starting their careers the little interaction with coworkers could bring new challenges.

Including Sydni in the company’s U.S. and global meetings was obviously the first thing the team could think of, but how to make it even more welcoming?

The American team created a few virtual events, so everybody could have lunch together, share how the weekend was, talk about their favorite TV series. Most assignments were discussed in detail on camera. And across the company, everybody made sure she would have a project that would tackle several aspects of the daily PR work offered to SE10 clients. This would be a good way for her to have a sense of what PR work entails but also give her the opportunity to get in touch with coworkers from different regions.

At the end of her internship, Sydni let the team know that the formula worked. Although sometimes she had some free time with no tasks to accomplish, she considered her experience valuable and enjoyable.

Thanks, Sydni! It was great having you onboard for a couple of months!

“Even though I was working from home, the SE10 team was very supportive. They would check up on me to see if I had any questions or needed any help with assignments I was given. Our weekly global meetings gave me the opportunity to meet and work with people outside of the U.S., which was a great experience. The company certainly has an uplifting atmosphere and they always put the client first,” Sydni said. “Also, one of the best aspects of being an intern at SE10 was that the team didn’t just give me ‘intern’ assignments like taking notes in meetings. I wrote press releases and articles, suggested website and social media content, compiled media lists and created many research presentations for clients. I strengthened my writing and research skills, while also learning about the PR world”.

Mariana Santos

By Mariana Santos

Account Manager

About the Author

Mariana Santos is an Account Manager based in Chicago. A former journalist with experience in Brazil, Germany and the U.S., Mariana provides multimedia content, speechwriting, and other PR services for a range of clients. She uses her multi-lingual skills – English, Portuguese, Spanish, and German – to help clients connect with their customers in different parts of the world. Mariana holds a bachelor’s degree from Universidade de Brasilia and a master’s degree in international media studies from Deutsche Welle Akademie/Universität Bonn.