A New Kind of Internship
Written by Ilona Lepshokova
I had been on a call with a friend when she mentioned how her close friend had told her enthusiastically about a project she was working on for a wildlife conservation foundation. Later that day I searched it up out of curiosity and was delighted to find out that they were looking for interns, so I sent my application off hoping to get a response. I started working as an intern at the Kashmir World Foundation in June, in the middle of quarantine. I had been incredibly nervous, barely managing to keep my voice even during the informal interview. In either of my countries, Russia and Spain, high school internships are practically non existent. The word ‘internship’ is reserved for work opportunities for advanced university students, and usually are the same as a short term job. As a result, I wasn’t sure what to expect and approached it with the same level of seriousness as I would have a full time job. However, I quickly came to realize that it was possible to maintain professionalism while staying relaxed and comfortable in the workplace, and was delighted to find out how welcoming the environment was.
During my internship at KWF I have worked on a wide variety of projects like science education by hosting informational webinars for children, in one of which we made ice cream from scratch as a way of learning thermodynamics. It was my first time explaining a concept to people I hadn’t met before on camera, so I was fairly nervous, but this experience made me more confident in my public speaking skills. I had applied to this internship with the expectation of doing something science related, but apart from these webinars I’m also working in public relations, social media and marketing, which was surprising or me. I had assumed that as an intern I would be doing the same repetitive tasks, so I was pleasantly surprised when I was encouraged to try out different areas of activity I had no previous background in, and to have a voice, provide feedback and suggest new ideas without the fear of making a mistake. This kind of autonomy was not something that I expected, as it is not the standard in my country, and as a result it is something I value about this experience. Thanks to this multidisciplinary approach, I gained numerous skills and the opportunity to explore new fields like web design and marketing.
A huge advantage to my internship is the fact that it is one hundred percent virtual. This made it very easy for me to organize my time in between lessons and other activities in the summer and provided even more flexibility than I had been expecting. Most importantly, it made it possible for me to join the Kashmir World Foundation team while being almost 4000 miles away from the office. While I still prefer face to face communication, this format is becoming more and more convenient due to the recent social restrictions, and it has the huge benefit of bringing together like-minded people from all over the globe to work together for a common cause.