A digital internship: the journey of an extern

During the first weeks of our strategy internship, we jumped on what felt like a running train. All the people on the train stuck out their hands to pull us in and get us up to speed. Just as we could keep up the pace the train got to a full-stop. Our internship became an externship due to COVID-19 forcing the country into lockdown. Now, we look back on an interesting experience and leave with a new skillset on hand. Let us tell you about the difficulties and the unforeseen benefits of what might be the first generation of digital internships.

A running start of our internship

In February we received workshops from all the faces of Fronteer, this helped us get an understanding of the company and their way or working. Words like co-creation and holacracy were unknown to us, but now feel familiar and comfortable. We experienced a variety of projects: from breakfast sessions about the co-creation of the future of MBO education to a Fast Track project about making biodiversity the new normal in the construction world.

A (surprising) twist

In March, just like the rest of the world, there was a catch. From one day onto the next we were asked to stay put and wait for further instructions. We did not know what this would mean for our experiences and learning goals as an intern. Let’s reflect on what turned out positively different from what was expected:

  • Turns out working from home not only saves you travelling time (and a smaller footprint), but also boosts your creativity. Together, we formed a mission to keep up the spirits of all our co-workers. Colouring books to keep the kids busy, a shared Spotify playlist and every Tuesday a dilemma to share with the team.
  • An intern needs to speak up in order to receive guidance or help. Some information one might normally read from your body language now stays unread. We sometimes felt boundaries to call our peers multiple times a day where we would normally just walk over to have a quick chat. We learned to be concise in our wording, get to the point, be transparent in what we didn’t understand and ask for help when needed.

The train is up and running again but took an unexpected route. We did learn about working at an office instead of in an office, we learned about the online dynamics of the company. We played a role in the fast transformation of the company when COVID-19 hit. We are proud to be part of the first generation of digital internships, as educative and exciting as a ‘regular’ internship!