Virtual Realities: Internships in the Age of COVID-19

Katelyn Clontz Hill, Worldwide Communications, Lenovo

Today is National Intern Day. In a normal year, our visiting students and grads would be celebrating at headquarters and delivering presentations at the annual Intern Fair, but this year looks a little different.

I think we can agree 2020 has been anything but normal, with COVID-19 hitting different countries to different extents and along varying timelines. While some of our offices are reopening under new safety protocols, others, like our North America headquarters, are still trying to figure out how we return to work and maintain a safe ‘new normal’ when the time is right. In the same way everyone has had to pivot their lives around how they work and operate, we’ve had to get creative with how we do internships at Lenovo.

Each summer, Lenovo hosts hundreds of interns in our offices around the world for an 8-12 week work study, resulting in the hiring of more than 250 interns and 400 early-career individuals into departmental roles or positions among one of our rotational programs. Interns cover dozens of organizations and functions across the company, such as engineering, marketing, design, sales, and HR, to name a few.

“We usually start the internship onboarding process in March as students approach final exams and start setting their sights on summer plans,” explains Marybeth Caulfield, Senior Talent Acquisition Manager. “It was about that time when COVID started really hitting our communities here in North America and leadership made the call to close the offices – we had to make some quick decisions on how to proceed.”

With employees working from home for the foreseeable future, the talent acquisition team set their sights on virtual capabilities. While some roles that take place within our labs on campus were not feasible due to the in-person necessity, Lenovo was able to save over 80 percent of their annual internship offerings, extending 90 virtual internships this summer to students and recent grads across North America.

While remote work was not likely to be what many interns anticipated for their summer work studies, the change of scenery offered benefits of flexibility and even inspired some interns to develop new and creative ways of doing business.

Read on for a deeper look into the summer experiences of our virtual interns.

Tarini Ramesh

OEM Business Operations Intern
OEM Business Operations, Intelligent Devices Group
Rising sophomore at UNC Chapel Hill

“Even though the internship is remote, I’ve still been able to experience Lenovo’s amazing culture of equality and empowerment. The experience has been interesting to say the least – working virtually has allowed me to easily connect with colleagues in different locations across the world. It also encouraged me to reach out to people outside of my immediate team and step outside of my comfort zone.”

What I’ve been working on this summer: I’ve been conducting lead generation via market analysis and opportunity assessment and have found over 100 opportunities for the team this summer! I’ve also helped 20+ interns network with executives at Lenovo through the REAL employee resource group (Rising Employees at Lenovo) Intern Networking program that I’m leading.

What’s next for me:
My top goal in life is to make an impact and do my part in empowering others to make the world a better place. I aspire to do that through my passion for technology and economics. Thus, I’m interested in software engineering, data analysis, and quantitative trading.

Ce Ying Foo (Jayden)

Financial Analyst Intern
Data Center Group WW Sales and Marketing
Rising senior at National University of Singapore

“Having joined Lenovo North America in January and once worked at the office, it felt strange and surreal when everything moved to virtual. In a way, I do enjoy working virtually because it allows me to connect and collaborate more with my peers. I was able to hop into workshops and conferences organized by the University Recruitment team and benefit from various opportunities with Lenovo Leadership Team, REAL (Rising Employees at Lenovo) and HOLA (Hispanics of Lenovo Association) employee resource groups. Meetings have also become more flexible since everything is remote.  I like to see challenges as opportunities. As an international student, I stayed on because my goal was to experience the American culture, the way of life and observing the changes COVID-19 has brought. I appreciate the measures taken by Lenovo and taking care of well-being and health of my fellow co-workers and colleagues.”

What I’ve been working on this summer: Pricing, Profit Tracking, Service Reconciliation as well as Intern Incubation Project!

What’s next for me: My degree is in Business Administration (Finance) and my career goal all the while has been to remain as a financial analyst because I enjoy the work I do. I am glad to share that I would be heading back to college at the National University of Singapore and, at the same time, joining Lenovo Singapore as a Corporate Treasury Intern.

Vaidehi Gosawi

Visualization Analytics Analyst Intern
Global Business Analytics & Operations, Intelligent Devices Group
Graduate student, MS Business Analytics at the University of Illinois at Chicago

“This is my first internship in the U.S. My virtual experience has been great, so far! It was challenging to communicate through video calls and not meeting physically, but this has opened doors for new ways of connecting with people. It has actually made connecting with people easier because anyone and everyone in the organization is just a click away from you! The University Recruiting Team has done a great job helping us connect and network with fellow interns and colleagues. I’ve learnt a lot of great things and I’m proud of the connections I’ve made this summer. The Courageous Conversations event that was facilitated by Yolanda Conyers especially taught me a lot about American culture as a whole and the personal experiences shared by everyone helped me understand what people go through. It was an emotional experience indeed.”

What I’ve been working on this summer: I’m working in the Global Analytics and Operations team, which is mainly responsible for consulting with the internal business functions for Data Visualization best practices and also provide them training regarding various data visualization tools and techniques.  I helped my team to perform some migration projects and created dashboards to measure KPI’s.

What’s next for me:  I wish to become a successful Data Analyst/Data Scientist in the next 2-3 years and I’m diligently working towards my goal. I aspire to work for a Fortune 500, customer-centric company that values its customers more than anything else. I’m happy to share that my internship has been extended and I’m really looking forward to work with Lenovo after my graduation!

Peyton Cuccia

Social Media Intern
Worldwide Marketing
Graduate student at the University of Tennessee

“I loved my work from home set-up; my team sent me a gift kit with a bunch of cool gear to start my internship with.  Also, getting to regularly meet Lenovo employees based around the world over video-chat was a really cool experience. My past internships were not nearly as well organized – the projects I took on at Lenovo truly carried weight and I felt as though I was genuinely contributing.”

What I’ve been working on this summer: I worked on the team responsible for selecting a new Employee Advocacy Software, analyzed years of social media data across all geographies and provided content/strategy recommendations, assisted in account governance activities (destroying fake accounts), wrote This Week at Lenovo Central Newsletter each week as well as provided recommendations for future improvements, Created @WeAreLenovo National Intern Day Story content, developed 2 Products for the Intern Incubator Project, wrote a Social Media Best Practice Sheet and developed University Recruiting Marketing Graphics.

What’s next for me: Graduating with my MBA and working toward a marketing career in tech.

Sophie Baron

Motorola Mobility Internal Communications Intern
Marketing and Communications, Mobile Business Group
Rising Junior at Syracuse University

“This is my second summer internship experience, and having a virtual internship was definitely not what I had in mind for the summer, but it has been great so far, connecting with team members in different offices around the globe. I have met so many more people virtually than I would have if it was in person, so for that I am thankful. The Internship program has allowed me to really excel as a young professional. From weekly coffee chats to leadership discussions ad to be able to network with people around the globe and throughout the company has just been so memorable. I also have really enjoyed creating friendships with my team members and fellow interns!”

What I’ve been working on this summer: This summer I have been able to work on a variety of projects, writing articles for Lenovo Central and StoryHub, and had the opportunity to write weekly newsletters for all of MBG. One of the most beneficial projects though was a business case that I worked on with 4 other MBG Interns! It was really great to meet people in other departments and see what it takes to create a product from all aspects of the business.

What’s next for me: I’m not sure what my dream job is, but I know that I want to write, plan, and be creative in whatever I do.  This fall I’ll be taking on my Junior year of classes and I hope to continue to hone my skills and continue to learn.

William Dunston

Advanced Analytics Intern
WW Sales and Marketing, Data Center Group
Senior at North Carolina A&T University

“Out of the four internships I have had, this has been the best. Working virtually has made networking and collaborating with my team significantly easier. It is easy to maintain the focus of the people you’re talking to, because everyone is working remote. My greatest take away from this internship, has been the connections I have built. Thanks to some of the wonderful people I have met during this internship, many opportunities have been created to help drive campus diversity initiatives.”

What I’ve been working on this summer: This summer, I had the opportunity to conduct an analysis on the service department’s performance. By pulling large amounts of historical data from our LUDP database, and leveraging Python to point out impactful trends, our team was able to identify areas of improvement for the service department. Additionally I am currently working on a data validation project to confirm information accuracy between multiple databases.

What’s next for me: My internship has been extended with Lenovo through the fall, but my next step is to finish my computer engineering degree and begin my corporate journey. I plan to climb the tech ladder, taking the good and bad lessons I learn along the way to help others as they begin and grow in their post-graduate journey. My career goal is to obtain a promising career as a software engineer with a corporation where I can utilize my knowledge of high-level and low-level programming languages. I aspire to innovate existing solutions, and use creative problem solving to tackle difficult challenges.

Taylor Debord

Lenovo Accelerated Sales Rotational (LASR) Intern
North America Inside Sales, PC & Smart Devices, Intelligent Devices Group
Rising senior at UNC Chapel Hill

“I think Lenovo has done a great job with making as many aspects virtual as possible with my internship, and I am gaining a lot of valuable knowledge and experience. The LASR internship has allowed me to connect with a larger group of people who have so many different skill sets and experiences that they are all willing to share with me. I thought working for such a large company may be more intimidating, but the Lenovo culture is very welcoming. I am a social person who loves meeting new people, and it is tough for me to not get to interact with each of my coworkers and fellow interns in person, however, the virtual aspect of the internship has allowed me a more flexible schedule as well as allowed me to get to spend more time with my family while at home, which I have loved. My NA Marketing team has given me a lot of insight into the digital marketing and email marketing world I did not previously have. These experiences have impacted what fields I may want to pursue and have let me get a better glimpse into the marketing world than I may get in a classroom.”

What I’ve been working on this summer:  I am working on an ongoing project with the NA Marketing Team to create a more effective way to present what the email and ecommerce marketing teams are putting into marketing. I have researched and gotten to use several types of software and other MarTech options to help create multiple alternatives to what the team is currently using. I’m hoping to help automate the presentation process so that the team can invest their time more valuably.

What’s next for me: I will be a senior at UNC this year and will be finishing up my business administration degree in 2021. Graduating from the business school at UNC has been a long-time dream of mine, and I hope to take my transferable classroom skills as well as the skills I have learned at Lenovo to make a positive impact within Corporate America and beyond.

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