Jason shares the ups and downs of landing an internship during COVID
Hi! I’m Jason Gutierrez, a (soon-to-be former) student at the University of Texas at Austin and an Employee Engagement Intern at Indeed. I’m writing this to give you a peek into what it’s like inside a 100% virtual intern experience at Indeed. I hope that diving deep into my experience will shine a light on what it’s like to work virtually, no matter where you end up.
Landing the Job
The role I’m currently working in isn’t the one I originally applied for. I submitted my application and established a connection with Dominic, my recruiter, just as COVID-19 began to make headlines. Needless to say, things changed rapidly and that opportunity was no longer available.
Luckily, Dominic pointed me to a position on Indeed’s Internal Communications team. The anticipatory excitement for what this opportunity could become dwarfed everything else that I had on my mind. I immediately sent over my portfolio and anxiously waited for Dominic’s response.
The interview process was thorough and the most intensive I have experienced after having four previous internships. The interview consisted of three rounds and four interviews. I had no idea what to expect. One of the highlights for me, as someone who’s spent their whole life in Texas, was getting to interview with someone who lived on a different continent. This being my first exposure to a global team, I knew that this opportunity was unlike any other.
In preparation for the third, and final, round of interviews, I talked through countless questions and perfected my responses with anyone who would partake in my crazed dedication. I wanted to be prepared. I had spent years waiting for an opportunity like this to come around and I wasn’t going to miss out on it.
The unpredictability of COVID
In response to the growing threat of COVID-19, Indeed made the proactive decision to freeze hiring operations. I just remember feeling like my “big break” had vanished into thin air. Two weeks later, Texas entered lockdown.
In the next six months, life as I knew it ceased to exist. In-person events became archaic in a Zoom-dominated world. Despite these less-than-ideal circumstances, I resumed my internship hunt in an attempt to beef up my resume before graduating.
Before I could get too far in my hunt, an email from Dominic filtered into my inbox. Indeed had found their pandemic footing and was ready to resume hiring. More specifically, the Internal Communications team was still interested in hosting me for the Employee Engagement Internship.
“Would you be interested in applying for this position?”
Week one – making connections
I was so nervous for the first day of my internship. I woke up an hour before my alarm and couldn’t stomach breakfast. In the normal world, introductions are my wheelhouse. However, the world had since been condensed to fit a 12 inch laptop screen.
I was fearful of the virtual-aspect of the internship impacting the value I would be able to derive from this experience. With this in mind, I clicked into my first meeting ready to put in a little extra effort to form connections, personal and professional, with the team.
One week in and my hunch was confirmed. This is definitely going to be unlike any other internship I’ve had before. Following an intensive on-boarding process came a flurry of one-on-one Zoom chats with every member of the Internal Communications team.
PRO TIP: ask what you’re expected to ask (what’s your role in the operations of this team? How can I best assist your day-to-day operations? etc.), but don’t forget to make casual conversation! Ask about who they are, where they’re from, what they’ve done, etc. Through these casual phone calls, I was able to catch glimpses of the humans behind the computer screen and it really helped me feel welcomed into the space.
From there, I hit the ground running.
Hear more of Jason’s thoughts on his first day in his vlog below.
Finding my groove
In addition to helping assist with projects that were already in motion, my manager, Jennifer, tasked me with writing an employee spotlight story. I was almost taken aback by her request. I couldn’t believe she trusted me with coordinating and publishing a full-fledged story right off the bat. Nevertheless, I had to put my big boy pants on and pretend I knew what I was doing.
The story centered on Curtis Box, an in-house attorney at Indeed and father to a young daughter who wrote a “Fox Eats” book series based upon a question his daughter asked him: “Would fox eat orange?” I wrote, published, and promoted the story for over 10,000 Indeedians to read.
This project was the perfect foray into the work I would be doing for the rest of my internship. Although it was intimidating at first, I was so grateful to have a hand in sharing such a touching story.
My confidence was also boosted by the fact that it was so well received. Not only did it boast one of the highest interaction numbers for the month, several Indeedians went out of their way to commend Curtis’s endeavor. I felt proud to have created a piece of content that was successful in showcasing the raw emotion that lied beneath the story.
Hear more about Jason’s projects in the video below.
As time went on, I was tasked with more high profile assignments. One of the most notable being to conceptualize, design, and regularly post and promote content for our Featured Artists Program highlighting diverse artists at Indeed. What started as Jennifer asking me to brainstorm ideas on how to promote internal artists blossomed into a bi-monthly artist showcase that tied into larger themes of inclusion and belonging.
In a similar fashion, I was tasked with brainstorming an activation for World Penguin Day, an important assignment as a penguin named Jobby is Indeed’s internal mascot. The project quickly took on a life of its own.
Almost immediately, the idea of allowing Indeedians to customize Jobby came to mind. I designed a template that walked users through the customization process and provided them with several digital stickers. From here, Jennifer and I met with several teams to tie our initiative to Indeed’s larger Earth Week celebration.
I’m very proud of everything I’ve done at Indeed, but I think this is my favorite project to date. The culmination of my writing, design, and management skills, this project gave me hands-on experience with large-scale project ideation and execution, which I’ve never had before.
The common theme in all of this is trust.
I am so grateful for everyone on my team believing that I could meaningfully contribute to their operations from day one. I think that the initial trust we had, and the mutual trust we’ve come to develop, has been integral to the relationship we’ve built. I immediately felt supported, which enabled me to perform at my highest capability. I am thankful to have had the opportunity to work with such an encouraging and dedicated team.
Watch the video below to hear more about the World Penguin Day project.
This is the million dollar question. I’m not sure which direction I will head in once I graduate and my Indeed internship comes to an end. The ability to look into the future and see possibilities in abundance is tremendously exciting and it is made possible by this internship experience.
One thing that I heard Jennifer say time and time again is, “This is going to be great on your portfolio!” I don’t want to seem like I’m bragging, but I wholeheartedly agree with her.
In the span of a semester, I have created ample content and demonstrated that I am capable of conceptualizing and coordinating large scale projects. I would not have received such invaluable experience had it not been for my time at Indeed and, more specifically, Jennifer managing my tasks with the future in mind.
As my story concludes, I want to make sure future interns make the most of their internships. With work being remote, we are responsible for driving the value of our internship.
Pro tip: Go out of your way to chat with members of your team! Make yourself available to help whoever with whatever (make tacking on “Is there anything I can help you with?” a norm)! Frequently check in with your team members (even if you feel annoying, I promise you aren’t).
More of Jason’s tips here.
Most importantly, keep your head up and work hard. It took four internships to finally land one where I was able to walk away with tangible work products and metrics that demonstrate my contribution to the organization, culminating in this blog post. If you’re lucky enough to land at Indeed, buckle up. You’re in for a wild ride.
Hear Jason’s final thought on his internship below.
Check out university.indeed.jobs for more intern stories and internship opportunities.