Reflections From a COVID-Styled Internship

At the start of March, when the COVID-19 pandemic began to escalate, I was nervous about where my year would go, and where life would lead me. It was then that I got the call from Maddy Ruble – a Sr. Sourcing Specialist at Blackboard – about interviewing for an internship position. I was in Abu Dhabi, U.A.E., and in the process of deciding if I should travel back to the U.S. for school or stay home with my family. While the thought of returning to the U.S. seemed bleak at the time, my positive experience with the Blackboard recruitment process gave me hope that there was something worth coming back to.

Luckily, a few weeks after I returned, I was offered an internship at Blackboard as the Communications and Engagement Intern working on the Global Communications and Brand team. I cannot speak highly enough of my team members. Not once was I treated as just an intern; I was trusted and handed tasks that made me feel like a valued colleague. Even though the entire internship was virtual, I felt supported, like I could ask questions and be heard. My supervisor, Niambi Winter, played a critical role in making sure I was integrated into the team and allowed me to have a voice in every project. She was a role model and mentor in every possible way, granting me the opportunity to truly feel like I was a part of something big.

My main responsibilities included working on the internal communications and engagement strategy for BbWorld20 and the unveiling of Blackboard’s refreshed brand. Both projects allowed me to be at the forefront of exciting organizational changes. I also attended high-level meetings where decisions on brand launches were made and participated in working sessions where BbWorld20 improvements were discussed. This helped me understand how major companies decide on whether or not to proceed with changes to high-level projects. The projects I’m most proud of are creating an internal communications editorial calendar and request form from scratch and creating a virtual environment on Bb University for a virtual scavenger hunt. Being an internal communications intern also meant that I engaged with employees throughout the company in big and small ways, including one-on-one conversations, cross-functional team meetings, and all-employee calls. Finally, working with internal communication channels added hard skills to my résumé – from using Asana for content management to using Cision for content aggregation to using MailChimp, SharePoint, Yammer, and Slack for content publication. I now have more software experience than ever.

Additionally, I was given the opportunity to form wonderful connections with colleagues from throughout the company. Through our Intern Meet & Greet, I had the pleasure of connecting with CEO Bill Ballhaus, who took time out of his day to get to know every intern and speak on his experiences. Not many interns get to meet their CEOs on a personal level, so it was an unforgettable experience for me. The HR team was instrumental in making this happen, specifically Mari Kim, who has supported me throughout my internship.

My internship at Blackboard was filled with enriching experiences and I highly recommend interning/working at the company. CCT courses such as media management prepared me for my work at Blackboard. From helping me understand the importance of a company’s tagline and mission statement to how it ties to company values, I was truly able to delve into working on brand launch projects. The internship increased my interest in internal communication and communication strategy, using these experiences and knowledge from CCT, I hope to work in strategic communication consultancy. Thank you, Blackboard, for being a part of my educational and professional journey. Thank you to my team – Heather Phillips, D’Anthony White, Niambi Winter, Kylie Johnson, Tyler Bracken, and Paige Franklin – for welcoming me with open arms and truly making Blackboard feel like home.

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