Internship Location: Italy (remote)
Work Sector: Tech Startup, Market Research & Product Development
Impact: “When I realized the type of work I’d be doing and the impact I’d be making, it scared me… But I’m so glad I stuck through it. I developed a newfound confidence. I know now I can do a lot more than I thought I could.”
Skyline College student Katrina Salas interned this semester with an app startup based in Italy through the inaugural SMCCCD Global Virtual Internship Program, a program offered for the first time this spring in partnership with AIFS. The Global Virtual Internship Program is a program through SMCCCD Study Abroad which matches students with remote internships in a variety of industry sectors around the world.
In her internship, Salas focused on market and competitive research as well as product development. As a Business Finance major, she explained that while her internship was not directly in finance, she strengthened skills that will serve her future career, such as creating spreadsheets for market research and completing competitive analyses. “It wasn’t specifically financial analysis,” says Salas, “but it required me to use critical thinking and analysis skills. The internship was still applicable to my major.”
Additionally, Salas explored an area of work that was new to her. For the last month of her internship, she worked with the startup’s product development team, facilitating communication between the developers and the founder. She focused on testing the app, documenting and reporting technical issues, and recommending improvements. “I’ve realized I like product development and management, which was not something I had really considered before. I think it’s important [for students] to realize that your major doesn’t have to pigeonhole you into what you do after you graduate.” Her goal for the internship was to “gain a mixed view of what the workforce looks like.”
She also realized she enjoys working in a startup setting. “At the startup level,” says Salas, “you can wear many hats; it’s not ‘cog in the wheel’ work. I was able to make an impact. I could see that the work I was doing was being utilized. When I first started, I was really afraid…when I realized the type of work I’d be doing and the impact I’d be making, it scared me, and I almost dropped out because I was afraid of that responsibility. But I’m so glad I stuck through it. I developed a newfound confidence. I know now I can do a lot more than I thought I could.”
When asked what advice she would give to other students, Salas encouraged others to “do the best you can; try to learn as much as you can. Even if in a short-term, unpaid internship, it is an opportunity to get an insider look into how different companies and organizations work.” The internship, she explains, “has helped me to develop a network of people at all levels who can vouch for me, and it is opening up future opportunities.” Salas received excellent evaluations from her internship supervisor and has been offered the opportunity to continue working remotely with the startup on a flexible, part-time basis as she finishes her bachelor’s degree.
SMCCCD Study Abroad is now offering Global Virtual Team Internships each semester and summer. Interested students can now apply for the Fall 2021 Global Virtual Internship Program. Apply here by Thursday, May 27, 2021 to be considered for the program and the accompanying scholarship.
Article by Stephanie Wells