Intern Life: Alicia’s Virtual  Journey

 I want to begin by saying how appreciative I am that Toyota Industries Commercial Finance created a summer internship program with remote options. Living in a small town in New Mexico, a thriving student—such as myself—faces the challenge of trying to find ways to gain work experience in the wider world. With TICF’s virtual internship program, I obtained a summer internship without having to move, while still being part of the corporate environment.

Right from the start both of my managers understood that communicating in a virtual setting is different. They assured me of their open-door policy and that all my questions or concerns, big or small, were important to my success and would be answered.

A little over a month into my internship, I can say that I feel the support from my leadership team, even at this great distance. It is almost as if I am in the office. All my questions are answered in a timely manner, with guidance on how I can improve my projects. I have been given the freedom to add my own personal, creative thoughts into the mix; sometimes this leads to mistakes, but they are always teachable moments.

There are a total of five interns at TICF this summer. Each intern is working in a different department based on individual career goals. As we are all navigating our respective internships, we have made it our mission to meet once a week through Teams. During this time, we talk about our projects, our experiences, and ask or offer feedback on each other’s assignments. It is nice to be able to connect with other interns and be a part of their journey to success.

A virtual internship is challenging: An intern does not have the leadership team sitting in the next room, able to answer questions immediately. The best tip I would give a virtual intern is to set up a strong line of communication with their manager from the get-go. This helps reduce the feeling of sitting on a faraway island. In my department, we have established a short 15- to 20-minute meeting every day to review tasks and field questions.

The first month has been a success! I can’t wait to see what the other half of this internship will bring.