Virtual summer internships offer valuable experiences

Photo courtesy Esther Animalu
By Ashley A. Williams

Photo courtesy Esther Animalu

Virtual summer internships offer valuable experiences

By Ashley A. Williams
Esther Animalu is learning the skills of her field during her remote student internship with the cable television station MSNBC.

Since March, college students across the country have had to adjust to the interruptions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. This is especially true for students participating in internships this summer. 

Esther Animalu, a rising junior in the University of Miami School of Communication, hasn’t let the novel coronavirus quash her summer goal of interning for a media company. 

“I applied all over, and I hoped that at least one company would provide me with an internship,” said Animalu, who is majoring in broadcast journalism and political science. 

To her surprise, she received a call from cable television channel MSNBC. After two interviews, the company selected her to be their live production intern. 

“I didn’t have high expectations because it’s so competitive,” said Animalu, a native of Queens, New York. “This opportunity means a lot because I’m able to connect and network with reporters, executives, human resources staff—I’m able to talk to anyone.” 

Kelshay Toomer, assistant director of internships at the Toppel Career Center, said that although many of the available internships are unpaid, employers have made it a priority to continue to offer students experiential opportunities. 

Animalu said though she’s working from the comfort of her own home, she still feels included and valued. 

“Each day using Microsoft Teams, I spend time editing using media software, I log footage into the system, write scripts for the anchors, and pitch stories—especially about social injustices,” she said. “Once a week, interns attend a webinar to ask questions and hear from guest speakers.” 

Toomer believes her generation of college student is adapting well to the reality of remote internships. 

“Employers want to be sure that students still feel included within the company work culture, even though students are working virtually,” said Toomer. “Many continue to reach out to the Toppel Career Center to invite students to apply to their remote positions.” 

Toomer suggests that students interested in pursuing an internship visit Handshake, the University’s online career management platform.