Aadi C Krishna, Class XI, Shiv Nadar School, Noida
I am a part of the generation that is popularly called Gen Z. We are supposed to be entrepreneurial, true digital natives, hyper-cognitive and ready to embrace change!
And trust me, we were put to the test across all these aspects when the COVID-19 pandemic hit us. The world could not have imagined an event like this let alone prepared to deal with it effectively, least of all me.
I think one institution that adapted really quickly to a digital environment was my school where classes immediately moved online, and technology platforms were incorporated to enable smooth functioning. However, I was still concerned about a crucial aspect of my Grade 11 experience, which was the opportunity to intern with a major organisation.
Every year, our school helps the Grade XI students secure internship opportunities at some of the most exciting companies across various sectors. The experience forms a huge part of our experiential learning, allowing us to gain practical knowledge of how things work in the real world while also preparing us to make informed career choices. With the pandemic, I was quite sure that I would have to bid goodbye to this experience, but then our school and technology came to the rescue, and most of us managed to secure virtual internship opportunities.
After going through the school’s rigorous process of application, resume short-listing followed by an interview with the director; I was offered a virtual internship at Adobe Inc. as a Product Manager. I was excited to be interning at one of the largest software companies in the world. The only thing that I couldn’t have imagined earlier was doing this while sitting at my desk at home.
While naturally, one could be apprehensive about virtually doing a project that requires extensive market research; in reality, interning online helped make the whole experience easier.
By this time, luckily, I was already comfortable with online interactions given my virtual classes. For my project, teachers were the target customers. Working online allowed me to efficiently conduct a variety of interviews while sitting at home, as I wasn’t spending time on travel. I realised that through effective communication, virtual interviews could also be detailed and personal.
I noticed, for many, interning online can help take off some of the initial ‘being too much in awe’ experience. The familiar home setting turned out to be a more comfortable environment to contribute meaningfully to team discussions and sharing of ideas and thoughts without hesitation. It also gave an additional degree of freedom to work at one’s own pace. Of course, I had deadlines to meet, but I could plan my work according to my convenience and priorities.
However, I do feel that there was a minor drawback as well — I missed out on the experience of how it feels to work in a physical office and chat with your colleagues over a cup of coffee.
Setting up every discussion beforehand, and calendaring was a challenge. So were technology failures that hampered meetings. For instance, I recall how our team designer dropped off the call because of technical problems in the middle of a team presentation to the Senior Management, breaking the flow and leaving us scrambling to finish it on time. Needless to say, there are more reasons to get distracted at home; a phone call from a friend or a WhatsApp check can lead to loss of productive time.
As I look back, the four-week journey was an incredible learning experience and great fun. It gave me a taste of detailed research and planning that goes behind creating a world-class product; the significance of systematic thinking and consideration of multiple perspectives. It also taught me how critical it is to pay close attention to the tone, being succinct and clear in virtual interactions.
Finally, this experience imbibed a vital life lesson in me, which is to embrace change quickly and focus on the opportunities it brings, or as Socrates said, “The secret of change is to focus all your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”
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