Student Post: Making the Most of My Remote Internship with Nike
By Malik Henry
Delaware State University, Class of 2020
Just like all college students with an internship, I was excited and ready to jump into working this summer. After receiving so many rejection letters, having a company finally believe in you is an amazing feeling. In my case, I was fortunate enough to secure an internship with Nike, Inc. Things were shaping up nicely: I was on my way to graduating, I’d been accepted into a great graduate program, and I would be working for my dream company. I even found housing for the internship and had booked a plane ticket. Then, COVID-19 occurred, and it disrupted the very world we live in.
I started to see numerous posts on social media and heard my peers talk about their internship opportunities getting canceled due to the pandemic. I tried to be as optimistic as possible, but I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I was scared of being the next internship victim. Nike was great, sending constant newsletters updates and hosting virtual meetings with recruiters and managers. However, everything was up in the air, and it started to feel like the inevitable would happen.
But one miraculous day we were all reassured that the internship would go on, though we would have to settle for a remote experience. It was bittersweet, of course, because we couldn’t go into the offices, but at the end of the day, we still had an internship. The recruiters rallied and brainstormed an amazing internship experience for us to have this summer. Now, it is up to me to make the most of the opportunity and absorb as much as I can.
The most difficult part of starting a job remotely is all the onboarding that has to take place without much guidance. There is a lot of legal and tax paperwork to handle, and when everybody is in a different state with different laws, there is bound to be a lot of confusion. With me being in a state that was not as “open” as other states during the pandemic, it was even harder for me to get the legal documents signed. But that didn’t stop the recruiters from being readily available to assist all the interns. Besides that, Nike made the onboarding process as effortless as possible. I received my equipment fully functional and prepared with all the necessary software. Due to shipping time and certain paperwork being delayed because of state restrictions, the internship was pushed back by a week. However, that week was transformed into an acclimation week for us. It was a great way to ease into a new environment and get comfortable.
At Nike, I work in the Human Resources department as a Data Analyst. Because our team is growing consistently and we are specialists, meetings aren’t as frequent but communication is vital. Because we are remote, we communicate through email, Zoom, and Slack. Each communication tool has its own benefits that ensure the teams are in sync at all times. With this increase in communication, I have already learned a lot about how to grow professionally in a remote internship. Here’s what I’ve found helpful.
- I’m thankful that I work with a manager that doesn’t micromanage me and allows me to work freely in an environment that’s most effective for me.
- My manager and I had a long phone call during the acclimation week to figure out how we can work together as comfortably as possible. This ensured there was no confusion and that we wouldn’t trigger one another’s pet peeves later on.
Make a daily plan of action
- Since I am an hour ahead of my team, my day starts a little later, but a lot of what I do is more independent anyway. A typical day for me will start at 10 am and conclude around 6 pm, with Fridays being half days.
- When I first clock in, I like to check emails, check my schedule, and come up with a plan of action for the day.
- There is a major project that I am working on that will last the whole summer, so I try to break up the little tasks as much as possible to see constant progress.
Know your limits
- With me being remote, it is even more imperative that I keep my calendar updated. I put everything in my calendar on my work laptop so that I can see what is coming up and so I don’t stretch myself too thin.
- Find your limits and keep that in the back of your head at all times, so that you don’t get burned out trying to be a super intern.
- During these times, it can be difficult to stay motivated at work. I’m glad I work with a manager that gets that, so she is very flexible with the workload and work hours.
- Most of my motivation comes internally since I’m not in the office to feed off the natural motivation that is present in a professional environment.
- It is even harder to set yourself apart as an intern when things are remote, so going above and beyond is important. Even though it is difficult, don’t be the intern that does the bare minimum just because you are remote and don’t have people around to see what you are getting done.
- I have a consistent pattern and schedule, and this keeps me on task throughout the day. I encourage you to find that rhythm or niche to stay focused during a long day in the house.
Know your importance
- For any internship, either remote or in the office, it is crucial to realize your importance to a team. It is a lot easier to give your all when you know your purpose and how you’re contributing towards a larger goal.
- Even as an intern, if you don’t feel like your work is making a difference to the company, I urge you to bring that to the manager’s attention in a polite way. Every role in the company is important, but when you find your purpose, it helps you become even more effective in your duties.
Have a positive attitude
- With all the negativity going on in the world, it is vital to bring a positive attitude to work. Your attitude can change the whole landscape of things because positivity is more contagious than any virus.
- There are a lot of things we cannot control in the world or even in our personal situations, but we can always control our attitudes.
If you are fortunate enough to have a remote internship, then congratulations; you truly deserve it. If you weren’t as fortunate, then take this opportunity to grow and get better from this obstacle. Each and every one of us is destined for greatness. In Nike’s words, we have to “Just Do It.”