Student Voices - Virtually Interning Abroad while Exploring at Home

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We could list a number of reasons why our Virtual Internship Program (VIP) is a great choice, and in Marissa H'.s case—a Lehigh University student majoring in International Relations and Economics—those reasons are flexibility, mobility, and real-world job experience. Marissa spent the summer visiting friends and family while also completing a virtual internship based in Vienna, Austria. 

Marissa shared her experience and a breakdown of a typical week with us to show you firsthand what it's like to be a virtual intern on the road. 

Marissa's Take on the VIP Experience

This summer I virtually interned abroad in Vienna, Austria through IES Abroad. Through my virtual internship, I was able to travel the United States while learning and improving my professional skills, which helped me embrace a different story for my study abroad experience.

Projects & Tasks

The organization I interned with is called Impact Hub, which has a vast network of locations around the globe. Their mission is to "Connect, enable, and inspire businesses that innovate with heart, balancing social responsibility with profitability to build a world that works for all." As the Data Analysis & Market Research Intern at Impact Hub Vienna, I analyzed multiple years of responses of their Members Survey and broke down the questions by variables of interest for multiple groups of people with different aims. 

Some of my final deliverables for my internship included providing a spreadsheet of the data analysis findings and breakdowns, market research findings, a visual breakdown of the data via charts and graphs, as well as a PowerPoint presentation displaying those same findings, which I presented in our regular team meetings. Additionally, I researched which organizations were running programs similar to the one my team wanted to create and gathered information about each program already in the market.

Experience & Environment

This internship helped me develop personally and professionally. It allowed me to create a world for myself I hadn’t previously thought possible. The working atmosphere and community that Impact Hub provided me with has set the precedent for any employment I will seek moving forward. Everyone I met was incredibly inclusive and uplifting while also offering constructive feedback. It has shown me what a positive working environment should look like, which can certainly be difficult to achieve in a virtual environment halfway around the globe! They consistently worked around any time zone obstacles we faced and the communication was excellent, something that is incredibly important in a virtual environment. We had initial conversations about what work style I should expect, what it was like working in Vienna, and other cultural differences such as how to address coworkers.

Goals & Benefits

My supervisors continually supported me as I worked on my goals, and provided me with resources to help me achieve what I wanted to achieve. Some of the goals I set for myself were to be able to articulate myself better, meet new people, and improve my presentation skills. Impact Hub provided me with many opportunities to work towards these goals as well as strengthen the skills I already had. I could not be more thankful for my internship placement and people I worked with. They really have been impactful, fully living up to their name.

The flexibility of this internship being virtual allowed me to travel to Sedona, AZ with my family for a few weeks and visit my roommate in Astoria, NY for a week, something I wouldn’t have been able to do in a traditional internship setting. I’m grateful for this innovative opportunity and for the chance that something like this gives to students to experience something new.

Without further ado, get a sneak peek into a week in the life of a Vienna virtual intern... 

A Week in Marissa's Summer VIP Life

Monday, July 5th

Morning: 7:30-9 a.m. - Group meeting with Supervisors Diego and Alina: we discussed the tasks I had completed since last week’s meeting and talked through what data breakdowns I would do for this week as well as how to improve and hone the data narrative I created for Alina. 

Midday: We drove to Jerome (pictured), a mining town my grandparents used to visit, and checked out a beautiful kaleidoscope shop.

Evening: I showed my family Austrian Music that my supervisors suggested. Prepared for meeting with supervisor tomorrow: organized the data breakdowns I had done and created a more in depth outline of what I wanted to show and ask in my meeting the next morning. Began thinking of questions I may have had pertaining to Thursday’s meeting.

Tuesday, July 6th

Morning: 7:45-8:45 am - Meeting with Diego, my supervisor: Briefly discussed my data breakdowns in more detail than the supervisor meeting Monday. We discussed Thursday’s meeting, who would be there, how it will be organized, and my role. He ensured I was comfortable with and prepared for the Thursday meeting.

9-10 a.m. - DiscoverIES: Argentine Asado: IES Abroad Buenos Aires staff virtually described the history, technique, and importance of Asado, connecting Virtual Internshp Program students from across the world while explaining a traditional event prevalent in various South American countries. 

Midday: We drove to the Grand Canyon and took a hike (pictured).

Evening: We checked out a nearby dam. My cousins and I lost in a wild game of Pictionary. I did work for my Thursday meeting: created a narrative for the marketing team by taking the most important data from the surveys and putting it into an order best suited for external purposes

Wednesday, July 7th

Morning: We took a boat out on Lake Powell (pictured).

Midday: We drove back to Sedona, Arizona.

Evening: I did STATA work (a statistical package I had some previous experience in, but honed my skills tremendously throughout the internship) which included continuing to break down question data according to group and individual interests, then worked on improving the narrative for Alina, and prepared for a meeting tomorrow. I made an outline of how I wanted to present my information in the Report Data Check In tomorrow.

Thursday, July 8th

Morning: 7-8 a.m. - Report Data Check In: met with Impact Hub marketing team members to present what data breakdowns I had prepared for them and received feedback.

8-8:30 a.m. - Debrief with Diego about previous meeting and next steps

9-9:30 a.m. - Weekly check in with Liz, Vienna IES Internship Coordinator: discussed this week's tasks that I completed or was currently working on for Impact Hub and what I was planning to do for next week, talked about my trip to Arizona and showed her some of the pictures that I took of the beautiful views. Typically she would have a few specific questions to ask me regarding the internship and what she could do to make my experience better.

Continued to break down question data according to group and individual interests

Midday: Hiked Devil’s Bridge with my aunt, mom, and Cousin (pictured).

Evening: Continued work on breakdowns. Learned how to juggle limes from my cousin.

Friday, July 9th

Morning: 7:30-8:30 a.m. - Meeting with Diego and Sophie to see what additional breakdowns I needed to do.

Worked on the breakdowns they indicated in the meeting 

Midday: We kayaked (pictured) and ate lunch on beautiful rocks. 

Evening: I continued breakdowns and filled out timesheet for the IES Virtual Internship Program and also continued my work for Alina on the narrative.


Marissa bio pic

About Me

My name is Marissa and I am from Tennessee.  I am a Senior at Lehigh University with a joint major in International Relations and Economics. I came to Lehigh to pursue a Civil Engineering degree, but after taking some Economics and International Relations classes, I realized that I was more passionate about and could make a larger impact studying international relations and economics. I also have really enjoyed taking Spanish classes, being a part of the Global Citizenship Program, and being a global social impact fellow for PlasTech Ventures at Lehigh. As a fellow I was exposed to the idea of social entrepreneurship, where I developed a passion for the combination of innovation and impact and the desire to deepen my understanding of this type of entrepreneurship. I had learned so much from my position and wanted to apply my knowledge, something my internship this summer allowed and encouraged me to do. Through many of my experiences I have been able to educate myself on the experiences and perspectives of others in different environments, something I feel is integral to collaboratively creating sustainable solutions, and that certainly is what I experienced throughout my internship with Impact Hub Vienna through IES Abroad.

The IES Virtual Internship Program (VIP) is available in the summer and fall and spring semesters and offers part- and full-time placements in a variety of fields and locations. Learn More about VIP!

“This internship helped me develop personally and professionally. It allowed me to create a world for myself I hadn’t previously thought possible.”
Marissa H. (Virtual Internship Program Vienna | Lehigh University)
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