18 September, 2020
18 September, 2020
This summer, I had a very special Virtual Internship eXperience that I will never forget!
Anxiety and Frustration
2020 has certainly not been easy.
Since February 2020, COVID-19 started to affect me when I just came to Canada from China for my master’s degree at Ivey Business School. Although at that time, I was on the “safe side,” I was deeply worried about my family and got pretty bad anxiety while being a full-time student during the day and doing online volunteer work at night. An overwhelming amount of negative news was everywhere. How many new COVID cases were confirmed, how quickly hospitals were full, how hard the front-line health workers were fighting… I hardly slept for 5 hours each night for many nights!
One month later, the World Health Organization announced the global pandemic. My Ivey Global Lab (IGL) project in Peru got cancelled and other projects were moved to virtual. Ivey Global Lab is a program where Ivey MSc in International Business students are sent to emerging market economies as management interns to work with local businesses on real-world problems. It is one of the most exciting experiences for many students. But it was all taken away from us by this pandemic and everything turned upside now in the blink of an eye. Last-minute plans got cancelled. Everything was up in the air. Sounds frustrating, stressful, and even enraging? I agree, but not for long!
Yo Bro, Let’s Communicate
How to deal with changes and negative emotions – all during a pandemic? Communicate!
I have always been keen on problem-solving and I believe the best way to deal with challenges is to communicate as a team. Therefore, I truly appreciate how proactively the Ivey administrative team, IGL partner Authentica, and Ivey students communicated with one another.
Shortly after the announcement of the change in projects, Ivey initiated multiple meetings with the students to clarify the situation and ask about students’ concerns. Despite feeling frustrated and angry, students were showing gratitude, expressing opinions, and proposing solutions politely and reasonably. Because of that, although we have people from very diverse backgrounds with different values, mutual agreements were quickly established. That was a great lesson learned through this experience.
I and 2 other classmates were re-assigned to work with a technology company in India develop a go-to-market strategy to launch its SEO software product. But wait a second. SEO? What the hell is that?
Conquer a New Learning Curve
One of the best components of my virtual internship is that I got to learn new things every day.
To be honest, I have never heard about SEO before this summer, nor have I ever worked for a tech firm. I am from a finance and business background, but I need to tell the SVP of a tech firm what his team should do next, and I only got 8 weeks to figure things out.
Sounds like the kind of fun you would enjoy? I certainly did.
Industry publications, online sessions, competitors’ websites, SEO platforms’ free trials, customer databases, interviews…I was amazed by how many resources are available when one tries to learn something nowadays. I used all of those resources to quickly expand my knowledge of the SEO industry. And you know what? The learning curve was conquered and it felt so good. I got most of the things that I needed to understand from a business perspective and generated great results. So do not get afraid of technical terms. Just go ahead and learn!
Work as a team
I cannot stress enough how important it is to have an A-team that complements, trusts and supports you.
I was very lucky that I worked with the best team ever! We were in 3 different time zones, lived in 6 countries, and spoke 6 languages in total. We all have a strong work ethic. We are all self-driven, open-minded, and collaborative. Despite living in different time zones, we tried to make meeting times equally convenient so that we could take turns to get good sleep. As the team lead, I tried my best to give clear guidance, even if sometimes that meant meetings at 1 am. Because I was with the right teammates, work was very efficient and pleasant.
Another tremendous support that my team and I received was from our project advisor, Anitha, from Authentica. She was super empowering and gave us great suggestions throughout the whole project. During our last few days of the project, a member of our team went through a tough time with the loss of a family member and Anitha was very understanding of the situation and even offered us an extra meeting the day before our presentation date to rehearse with us. I miss her kindness and our laughs.
Last but not least, Ivey has provided very insightful courses and speaker sessions to guide us. I gained a lot of understanding in consulting, business, and leadership.