Getting an internship or job during college, or even before, is not uncommon. When preparing for an internship or job interview, hard and soft skills are usually practiced. But what even are they? It can be really hard to pinpoint exactly what hard and soft skills will work best for each role and how to practice them effectively. What I’ve learned, however, is that hard and soft skills can be transferred from all different kinds of roles, and you never know how they’ll show up. Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, I’ve found myself in multiple in-person, hybrid, and fully remote positions. For the most part, these positions have all been with non-profits or small businesses/organizations. Interning virtually for a hospital is completely different for me because of the entity’s size alone! Another noticeable difference is that my other positions have all been based in the United States, while Vall d’Hebron is halfway across the globe in Spain.
The four fully remote positions I’ve had are with Grind to Grad, a social media-based organization, Project Rousseau, a non-profit based in New York, USA, En Root Travel, a small travel company, and HBCU First, a non-profit based in Minnesota, USA. Three of the four are still current positions, and each of them has taught me something different about remote work.
Grind to Grad holds a special place in my heart. I’ve been with them for about two years now. The organization’s purpose is to encourage and uplift black undergraduate students to go to and finish college. I’d say that many remote work skills that I’m using for Val d’Hebron come from Grind to Grad. Since I’ve been with the team, we’ve always had people stationed all over the country. We also had a few international teammates at one point. One of the biggest things I’ve learned through Grind to Grad that I use with Vall d’Hebron is Time Zone consciousness. Sending emails when others will see them and being mindful of how/when communication on the team will be most effective are essential to working on a remote team.
A few years ago, I started with Project Rousseau in a small role, transitioned into a more intense role, then left recently. Project Rousseau serves underprivileged teens and young adults in New York. With them, I tutored students and served as a mentor to some. That position, which I was in for about a year, exposed a couple of things to me. While I was remote, people were working in their New York office. That’s one thing that I didn’t realize I’d experience elsewhere. With two interns with Adil in Spain, it is interesting collaborating on certain projects simultaneously. Project Rousseau also exposed me to different cultures in a professional setting. I used to mentor first-generation immigrants and assist them with navigating our culture, which most of the time, was language and the nuances that came with it.
Out of all my remote positions, En Root Travel has taught me the most about autonomy and responsibility. Generally, I consider myself very self-motivating and self-sufficient. Since I’d been attending classes online pre-pandemic, that taught me discipline when it comes to meeting deadlines and advocating for myself when I need help. However, I didn’t realize, at the time, how different those look in a more professional, sometimes goal-driven setting. My supervisors for En Root let me have a lot of autonomy with weekly tasks and one meeting a week, similar to how Adil has structured our Hospital internship. Before starting with Adil, I didn’t realize how much my autonomy and ability to self-govern have grown.
Finally, my position with HBCU First. HBCU First is a non-profit organization with programs to mold students into being the best version of themselves and making personal and professional connections. This position also started not too long ago, but collaboration is a big part. In the program, I have a mentee. Our remainder in the program is contingent upon our ability to collaborate and remain diligent. I saw this in my Hospital internship because I did a tremendous amount of collaboration with my other virtual counterpart. While we won’t necessarily get fired, a lot of the work we’re doing requires more than one hand, and thus far, we’ve worked well together.
My part-time job, one I’ve been in for two years now, is a small t-shirt production shop. This job started as an easy money-maker. I didn’t have any experience walking in, and I learned everything on the job. The job entails a lot of different things, including customer service, graphic design, and item production. Hard skills are big at this job. I’ve learned how to create and modify art using professional software and produce merchandise. However, I also have to interact with customers every day and solve problems quickly when they come up. For my internship in Spain, my learned hard skills weren’t too helpful, but knowing how to talk to people and problem solve helped a lot. My communications skills came in handy when I needed to collaborate with people from different states in the United States and other countries surrounding Europe. Problem-solving also came up when I needed to make quick deadlines unexpectedly.
To conclude this (long) blog post, I want to emphasize that as I performed each role I named previously, I didn’t know how what I was doing could help me with future positions. Doing my virtual internship abroad with Vall d’Hebron Hospital, my eyes were opened to just how transferable the skills that I learned in other roles were!
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Aliana Stanley is a Senior at Spelman College in Atlanta, GA. She is a Psychology and Political Science who plans to attend law school after graduation. In her free time, Aliana likes to spend time with friends and catch up on the latest trending Netflix show. She has a passion for helping others and learning new things. As she goes through life, she hopes to visit at least 6 of the 7 continents and be fluent in 4 languages other than English!