In early February, I was restless. The previous semester I had completed an incredibly fulfilling internship and I felt ready for another one. However, finding a spring internship proved to be a bigger challenge than I thought. After writing countless cover letters, having fruitless phone interviews, and losing sight of what I wanted, I often found myself wondering what’s next. That was until I came across an interesting post on LinkedIn about an opportunity at Waycare.
Waycare is a cloud-based software platform providing municipalities tools to visualize, in real-time, the transportation ecosystem in their region. Law Enforcement, Traffic Management Control, Road Maintenance, and other transportation agencies are using Waycare’s platform to improve traffic and safety management operations. I have a strong admiration for the way Waycare uses technology to create safer, more efficient roadways and I knew the internship would provide tremendous learning opportunities. What I didn’t expect was how quickly a pandemic would change things.
The commute from Orange to Los Angeles became shorter and shorter as more and more people began to work from home. My first week in the office was also my last. Conferences that the company planned to attend were either postponed or canceled altogether. As the global landscape changed, so did the way we worked.
One of the biggest challenges during my internship was keeping up with my responsibilities (academic and otherwise) as my everyday life rapidly changed. It was heartbreaking having to unexpectedly say goodbye to the campus and the people I love so much. I’m incredibly fortunate to have the ability to finish my internship remotely, as I know not everyone could. My boss was accomodating to my changing circumstances and maintained a solid line of communication when I began working remotely. We had regular check-ins via email and I was also included in Zoom meetings, which helped me feel less isolated.
My time at Waycare expanded my writing skills, allowing me to meet one of my main learning objectives. Whether it was contributing to a blog post or helping create presentations, I gained invaluable experience writing about new and exciting topics such as Intelligent Transportation Systems. Going into the internship, I felt equipped to handle writing assignments because of the work I completed in the School of Communication.
A class that helped me make the most of my experience during the pandemic was Risk and Crisis Communication. During Week 7 of the class, we spent time on the topic of health crisis communication. Our discussions about the economic costs of health crises could not have been more timely.
One of our assigned readings explained the timeline and consequences of the SARS epidemic and provided somewhat of a roadmap for how governing bodies might react to COVID-19. Having this resource was reassuring in an otherwise unpredictable time. One of my internship assignments directly resulted from the COVID-19 health crisis: after Waycare added a layer to the map to highlight essential locations such as food banks, grocery stores, and pharmacies, I created a social media post to boost user awareness of the new feature.
In addition to refining my marketing and communication skills, my internship also taught me something new about myself. Because of my time at Waycare, I now know that I thrive in environments that are values-based and driven by a meaningful mission. It’s easy to feel excited about the work you’re doing when the company you work for creates a positive impact on the world every day. In the future, I hope to continue my involvement with companies that serve a purpose greater than themselves.
For other Chapman students entering internships during their college career, I have a few words of advice. First, figure out what you’re good at. Then, figure out what’s important to you. Whether you work in finance, gaming, or fashion, your work contributes to the advancement of a company’s mission. It’s certainly a lot to consider, but it can help you find a company that’s the right fit.
Additionally, your first internship likely won’t be the first one you apply to. It might not be the second or the third or the tenth either, but you’ll get there. Persistence will take you to amazing places if you let it. If I had given up on my search after the first few rejections, I wouldn’t be where I am today… Which brings me to the best moment of my spring internship: the opportunity to extend my role through the summer. The past three months have been an incredible learning experience and I can’t wait to see what the next three have in store.