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Atypical internships: Students get real-world experience in a virtual world

Published on August 19, 2020

Atypical internships: Students get real-world experience in a virtual world

Summer is a great time for Eastern Connecticut State University students to gain valuable experience in the field during paid and for-credit internships. The summer of 2020 will be remembered as a time when normal life took on a dramatically new look due to COVID-19.  Even so, Eastern students have found ways to take advantage of internship opportunities even while working from home. These three Eastern students learned a variety of on-the-job skills while also gaining insights into corporate and organizational cultures, despite the limits placed on them that reduced or eliminated face-to-face workplace contact .

Zoe Buntz
Zoe Buntz 

Business administration and economics double major Zoe Buntz ’21 interned this summer at The Hartford in its early career leadership development program. 

As part of The Hartford’s operations, tech, data and analytics track, Buntz’s job was to examine and refine teaching matter. “I was an operations intern with the title ‘Middle and Large Commercial/Global Specialty Integration Performance Enablement Lead,’” said Buntz. “In this role, I met with a large number of subject matter experts on different teams to learn about the processes performed, what procedures are already documented, and identify any gaps or areas of improvement within the existing training material for each team to improve documentation and process procedures.”  

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Buntz used Skype to carry out her summer internship. The Hartford sent company-owned equipment to each intern to help them complete their assignments. “The Hartford went above and beyond to make the virtual experience extremely valuable,” said Buntz. “I had multiple Skype meetings every day, which made it feel less like an isolated internship. I was able to meet and develop connections with both my manager and countless employees.” 

After she graduates, Buntz aspires for a career in operations and to start her own business. “This internship made me extremely excited to help improve functionalities within a major company. Ultimately, I want to work for myself, doing something that I love, while providing an incredible workplace for people I am able to employ and do continuous acts of good in the community.”   

Liz Dowding
Elizabeth Dowding 

Business administration major Elizabeth Dowding ’21 served as an intern in marketing and communications at the Girl Scouts of Southeastern New England (GSSNE). 

While interning at GSSNE, Dowding’s duties included assisting with projects, gathering GSSNE publicity to email to staff members and film and edit interviews. “It was a unique experience,” said Dowding. “I was able to apply what I’ve learned at Eastern in the real world. I even came up with a new component of a marketing campaign — generation video interviews — and was able to film and edit several.”  

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Dowding’s internship was carried out virtually with a few in-office experiences. “It was challenging working from home on my computer. My favorite days were when I got to go into the office and do hands-on work. However, this experience prepared me for how the workplace may change in the future due to Covid-19.” 

Business Administration major Hannah Beazoglou ’21 interned at Aetna as an associate in their Group Medicare Department.

Hannah Beazoglou
Hannah Beazoglou 

Through Aetna’s General Management Corporate Internship Program (GMCIP), Beazoglou experienced a variety of assignments, including working on marketing strategies and research; developing customer case studies; assessing employee turnover; helping to develop a corresponding retention strategy; analyzing top competitors; and more. “I gained invaluable experience and skills from the projects and team members with whom I collaborated.” 

Due to the Covid-19 global pandemic, Beazoglou telecommuted to carry out her internship. Aetna provided her with the technology needed to fulfill her duties and designed a series of activities for her to become comfortable in the virtual setting. “The GMCIP had weekly activities such as its Leadership Speaker Series, Daily Walk and Talks, Mentor/Mentee relationships, Think Tank Sessions and more,” said Beazoglou, “all which created opportunities for interns to interact, problem solve and get to know and support each other.”  

Beazoglou has already accepted a full-time position at Aetna through the General Management Leadership Development Program (GMLDP), which she will begin at the end of her senior year. “The GMLDP is a four-and-a-half-year program that consists of three rotations across three key business areas. The program helps participants develop and improve proficiency in general manager competencies such as strong leadership; defining a compelling strategy; delivering financial and business results; building talent and teams; and developing meaningful relationships.”  

Written by Dwight Bachman