The COVID-19 crisis continues to shape our world and future. Restrictions to international travel have limited opportunities for public for public diplomacy and international exchange at a time when it is most needed.
With the support of the Federal Foreign Office of Germany, Cultural Vistas launched the Virtual Internship Corps, providing young professionals in the U.S. with the opportunity to develop their transatlantic networks and enhance their professional development. For the Fall 2020 semester, twenty-five emerging leaders were selected to take part in an immersive virtual internship program. One of whom, Jocelyn Nitta, reflects on how this virtual experience impacted her view on German culture, the future of work, and democracy.
Name: Jocelyn Nitta
Program: Virtual Internship Corps 2020
Current location: Michigan
Virtual internship placement: Global Innovation Gathering: Careables project
What was a normal day-to-day in a remote internship?
My normal day to day was more so a week to week schedule. I would meet with the whole team in the early morning on Mondays and Wednesdays. After, I would meet with my manager, where we would go over weekly projects and my progress on them. Overall, I put about 20 hours/week into the remote experience.
What was the most challenging part of your remote experience?
The most challenging part was meeting with the company during Germany’s work hours. I had to be comfortable being flexible to match my supervisor’s schedule. Despite not being there in person, however, I felt the company did a great job of making me feel included.
How did the program participation help shape your career?
I plan to pursue medicine, and in the medical field, understanding different cultural backgrounds is key to both treating and working with patients and other professionals. VIC helped me firsthand grasp how people from different cultures work together toward a common goal.
More specifically, the internship focused on inclusive healthcare for adaptable equipment. I take personal interest in this, and it gave me specific exposure to working in this setting.
What skills did you gain on the program that you still use today?
Communication skills will never go out of style. I learned to make sure I was communicating thoroughly and completing tasks on time, which was key to a successful remote internship. It was especially important to be open about expectations and learning outcomes. The company couldn’t read my mind, so it was important to solidify what I wanted to learn and explore.
I now find myself taking leadership roles in group projects and ensure the group is communicating. I feel more comfortable speaking up, showing work, and asking questions.
The world is changing at a rapid pace. What skills do you see being important for the future of work?
Communication will be a top priority, especially as business and international relations rely more on virtual operations. If you are time zones and places away, it is important to make sure you are on the same page. It is harder to build and gain trustful relationships with someone through a screen. Communicating effectively is not only important internally but is also reflected in the quality of work produced.
Why is democracy important to you?
It is important for people to feel that their voice is heard and feel as though they are part of a country, team, group, and so on. In this time of social movements and celebration of diversity, it is important to make sure that voices are being heard and accepted.
How did your participation on the program solidify your views on democracy?
Participating in the program showed me how important our interactions between each other are. Actions have trickle down effects, causing impacts anywhere from the individual person to entire nations. For example, my internship with Careables gave me a deeper understanding and acknowledgement that my normal is not the normal for everyone, and it is important to have adaptable equipment (i.e. writing aids or shopping basket extension for wheelchair users). This is similar to the importance of democracy and why it is fought for – we may think things are normal, but to others, there are limitations to reaching their full potential. There are programs and NGOs whose specific goal is to break those limitations and challenges.