Completing a working from home internship during COVID-19

When I applied for a position as La Trobe Sport’s Media and Communications intern back in October last year, I had no idea I’d be completing it from home and during a global pandemic.

About a month into my internship, COVID-19 forced La Trobe Sport’s offices into lock down and I was left with the prospect that my internship would be cancelled.

But the organisation was extremely understanding of this being my final year of study and offered me an arrangement to work from home. Looking back on it now, it has been one of the most unique experiences of my life.

At first, I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t gain the same hands-on and practical experiences from the internship that are so important in any internship – let alone a role in the media industry. It was also concerning that many of the sporting events that La Trobe teams and affiliated clubs compete in were either postponed or cancelled.

But instead, one day a week I’d complete a range of tasks including writing feature articles, editing video footage and crafting a range of social media posts for La Trobe Sport’s channels.

A normal ‘working from home’ day would see me make a coffee before heading to my desk for the morning phone call with my supervisor, where we’d talk through my tasks for the day. This phone call was extremely important in setting up my work for the day ahead, but it also helped me stay connected to the organisation and find out what was happening internally rather than just from an ‘internship’ perspective.

From there, I developed a plan for the day to ensure I completed all my work tasks while also making sure I could fit in a walk or exercise to break up my day. Exercising during work hours is a luxury you don’t always have working in the office, and this helped me feel more focused throughout the day.

Entering the internship, I’d originally hoped to gain some experience in the public relations space of the media. The original plan was for me to work with La Trobe’s inaugural University Basketball League (UBL) team in a media manager capacity. But with the cancellation of the UBL due to the pandemic, this was no longer an option.

However, this led to other opportunities within the internship to fine-tune and expand my skillset while also assisting La Trobe Sport fulfil their key aim during COVID-19 – keeping people connected with their community.

One of my main projects throughout the lock down period was assisting in the production of the Activation In Isolation home workout video series, which allowed me to improve my video editing skills. I was also given the task of compiling and assessing La Trobe Sport’s social media analytics each month, where I gained an understanding of why it is so important to consider these numbers particularly when wanting to grow your digital audience.

I also saw this internship as an opportunity to grow my professional connections, as networking is such a crucial skill to have in the media industry. I was initially worried that the lack of face-to-face interaction would limit my ability to make new connections with staff. I also felt bad having to send an email or ring my supervisor whenever I had a question, as opposed to being in the office where you could simply turn to them sitting next to you and ask. However, through Zoom meetings and phone calls, I was still able to catch up with my colleagues which also made me feel a part of the team.

The university’s placement team also offered great support over the working from home period. They would often give me a call to check in and make sure I had all the resources to continue my internship at home.

It is an extremely daunting time to be entering the workforce as a graduate due to the uncertainty of employment in the COVID-19 environment. But through the opportunities and experiences I’ve had at La Trobe Sport, I feel I’ve been able to both specialise and broaden my skillset.

Ultimately, this has helped best prepare me to enter the workforce and I now have a better understanding of the media professional I hope to be in the future.

Alanna Mullan is in her fifth year of a double degree of a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Media and Communications (Media Industries).

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