I was supposed to be behind a desk downing M&M’s and enjoying the SAS campus and all its glory. But instead, I’m working from home as an external communications intern. Working from home has been a blessing filled with challenges I never thought I’d experience this summer.

The first one being my new work environment. In an office setting, it’s easier to stay focused. If things go wrong, my manager might be down the hall or just a floor away.

Working from home takes a little extra discipline. Much like college, I had to relearn how to block out the outside noise, or inside noise, and stay in work mode. It was important that my family and I work together to help create a productive workspace. Sometimes this involves me reading them my entire schedule for the day.

But even then, they still find a way to randomly sing out loud or blast their favorite Western during my meetings. Let’s give it up one time for the mute button.

Beyond my “active” home, interning during COVID-19 has been, at times, scary. My anxiety has been triggered more than once. There really isn’t much else on the news. And even in my small town, people are getting infected and dying at alarming rates. I find myself taking my temperature more than ever before and becoming suspicious of every little cough or sneeze. Both of my parents are over the age of sixty, and my biggest fear in all of this is them getting sick.

On top of those fears, I am a young black woman in a time of extreme social unrest. I wake up many days to news of someone who looks like me being killed or brutally assaulted, which causes me to live in fear that my loved ones will be next.

It is mentally draining to hear negative COVID-19 updates and watch footage of people in my community get murdered all day long. Those images haunt my mind every day and make it a little harder for me to log in and stay focused. Lately, I’ve felt the need to disconnect from the media to keep my sanity.

But through all of this, there are still so many things to be thankful for.

Adjusting to the virtual internship experience

A strong quality of mine, adaptability, has been tested at a whole new level. I’m an introvert, but I do like to meet people for the first time in person. With my internship at SAS being virtual, those meetings look like a Microsoft Teams or Skype meeting.

Fellow marketing intern, Ally Miller, talked to me about her experience and the challenges she’s faced as an intern so far.

“The hardest thing is probably navigating communication digitally. By that, I mean trying to communicate with my manager without feeling like I’m irritating him.”

I understand exactly what she meant. My manager always reminds me to never hesitate to reach out, but I can’t help but feel like I’m bugging him when I send him more than two emails.

Networking behind a screen

Although meeting virtually doesn’t feel the same as it would in person, this experience makes me work even harder to make new, long-lasting connections with the interns and staff at SAS. Recently, all the marketing interns got together (virtually) for a short chat. The chat reminded me that we’re all in this together, and that other interns were just as eager as me to make a connection.

Meeting fellow interns and working with an experienced and patient team has made this experience all worth it. Although my internship is virtual, they still find ways to assign me meaningful work and provide constructive feedback and encouragement.

These days, before I start to complain, I think about the fact that I have the option to work from home. And for that, I am truly thankful to SAS. I had the opportunity to chat with Kristen Gabarino, SAS’ Intern Program Manager who said, “We’re very fortunate that with our infrastructure, and with the support of our executives and our intern managers, we were able to pivot and make things go virtual.”

“I feel like SAS has done everything in their power to make sure we have a great internship experience,” Miller said.

I couldn’t agree more.

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Falesha Brodie

Graduate Marketing Intern

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