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A Day & Night in the Life of a UNICEF USA Intern (During the Pandemic)

April 2, 2021

A Community Engagement intern reflects on her first remote internship and shares insights on what it's like interning at UNICEF USA. 

My name is Elisha Choi and I was the spring and summer 2020 Community Engagement intern in UNICEF USA's New York office.

On my first day [at UNICEF USA], I walked into the office asking myself, "Is this real life?"... A month later, when the coronavirus pandemic hit New York, I found myself asking the same question: "Is this real life?"

No words can describe the feeling I got when I landed this dream internship at UNICEF USA. On my first day, I stepped out of the elevator at the New York headquarters asking myself, “Is this real life?” Walking through the floors of the office was so surreal as I looked at photos of the world’s children with flashes of UNICEF’s distinguished blue hitting my eyes.

A month later, when the coronavirus pandemic hit New York, I found myself asking the same question: “Is this real life?” 

For students whose homes were abroad, moving back home meant ... figuring out how to intern and take classes in an international time zone.

Universities and workplaces across the country quickly moved to remote instruction as a means to socially distance people to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. This sudden change had huge implications for student’s learning, living and interning conditions. Students moving back home felt the novelty of temporarily working from home quickly fade as remote working became an indefinite new normal. For students whose homes were abroad, moving back home meant considering the previously stated challenges as well as figuring how to intern and take classes in an international time zone. 

The Community Engagement summer internship cohort was asked the following questions on how they dealt with the challenges of working throughout the day and night as an intern. There was a wide range of internship locations among the six respondents, including Nigeria, Texas, Florida, Tennessee, Georgia and the UAE. In this sample, four time zones were represented. 

What is one challenging thing about working in the day or night as a summer intern?

“Juggling summer classes, internship work and family responsibilities during quarantine with everything virtual was something very new for me! Adapting my working style and making the extra effort to stay connected with other interns and my colleagues was a challenge, but also a very rewarding experience!”— Kimberly Jimenez

“I don’t mind my regular working hours and my supervisor is always very considerate about the time difference. However, it can be difficult to have to adjust your schedule to attend certain meetings and webinars. For example, I’ve attended webinars as late as 9 p.m., even after I was done working for the day.”— Femi Adesanya

 

Any words of advice for a future intern that will be working remotely across a different time zone?  

“Always make your supervisors and team aware of your situation. The best way to do your job is to be open and honest about the constraints you're facing in that job. Working remotely is new for everyone so don't feel anxious if you're struggling to find your footing.” — Femi Adesanya 
 
“I cannot stress enough how important it is to frequently check in with your team (not just your supervisor!). Make sure you ask your supervisor to invite you to meetings you might not know about and to keep you in the loop with all things UNICEF and things specific to your team.” — Riley Koerner 
 
“Make the most of your internship! If you can't attend webinars or events, try to watch the recordings. They are very helpful!” — Varee Saetang  
 
"I was absolutely exuberant when I found out I had the opportunity to work at UNICEF USA. Obviously, during the pandemic, I felt like my life was pretty bleak. UNICEF was my beacon of light as I was living alone in my apartment. This internship has afforded me a surplus of amazing projects that I never thought I could be a part of as an intern. One of my favorite projects that I have worked on was the virtual volunteer engagement presentation. With that project, I researched and presented about accessibility and diversity regarding volunteers. I love that I have been able to exercise my creativity and work with positive, ambitious people. The biggest piece of advice I could give as a returning intern is to always reach out to be who are not on your team and try to make connections anytime you can!" — Synclaire Warren

 

The ability to work in consideration of the time differences was well worth the lifestyle and schedule changes that we interns had to make. Having a unified team effort along with our internship supervisors and colleagues pointed us all to the organizational mission — to unite no matter the cause, for every child. Working day and night for this mission to empower future generations was a summer well spent. Moving forward, we empower the next remote cohort to continue to push the needle for future generations to have fuller days and nights.

Applications for our Summer 2021 Internships are now live! Apply ASAP to be our next virtual Community Engagement Intern here

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