Distant but Connected: Virtual Internship at the World Trade Center Institute

Seo Yeon Jeong (WTCI Summer 2022 Professional Exchanges Program & Youth Fellowships Intern and InBaltimore Cohort)

As the world is slowly reverting to the pre-pandemic work environment, I was concerned at first when I learned that I had to return to South Korea for summer. Frankly, because I was still so basked in the thrill of being offered an internship position at WTCI at the time, I was slightly scared that I would have to let go of this opportunity. However, much to my surprise, the HR manager at WTCI responded to my request by kindly offering a remote option. This was my first impression of WTCI: flexible, accommodating, and understanding. It’s been three weeks now since I joined WTCI, but I can say that my first impression is still spot on!

And for those of you who are worried that a virtual internship is not as fun and hands-on as an in-person one, here’s my virtual journey with WTCI so far!

My work at a glance

Here’s what I’ve worked on and learned in the past three weeks:

  • Managed the backend and frontend of Socio (an online platform for Women Spanning the Globe conference)
  • Researched and updated Excel sheets for the GPS program (Global Pathways for Students)
  • Learned how to handle confidential materials
  • Learned the ins and outs of how administration and management work for a large non-profit company through working on Professional Exchanges Programs

Behind the scenes of a Conference (virtual edition)

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Image from: https://wtci.org/events/womens/2022-Women-Spanning-the-Globe 

I consider myself as a professional zoom conference/meeting participant considering the sheer amount of zoom links I’ve clicked for the past two years. However, as a participant, the only thing I ever needed to do was to click the link, sometimes enter the password if needed, turn on my camera, and go back and forth between the mute/unmute button. That’s it. Virtual conferences are easy and approachable for people who participate, but I’ve always wondered how much effort needs to be put in to run a virtual conference smoothly. 

Well, I’ve got my answer to that when I was assigned to manage the backend and frontend of the virtual platform, Socio, for one of WTCI’s biggest summer conferences: 2022 Women Spanning the Globe. With over 10,000 clicks happening on the Socio platform, I had to be alert and be very, very quick in catching any glitches or errors in the platform. Most importantly, noticing and reporting a problem before a regular participant mentions it in the chat is crucial in ensuring the smoothest experience for the viewers. I may never know how many technical problems arose in the meetings that I’ve participated in before, but I would like to take this time to thank everyone who had worked behind the screens for allowing me to have glitchless experiences!

About Professional Exchanges Program & Youth Fellowships

An internship is about gaining hands-on experience in the real world. And it definitely is.

As a PEP & Youth Fellowships intern, I’ve learned how to manage confidential materials and help gather and update necessary information to close and open programs involving youths (undergraduates) and delegations of foreign professionals from all over the world.

I’m still in the beginning stage, but I’ve got a glimpse of what it takes to organize and administer an international-scale program. It’s exciting how I get to help and see what goes into organizing a program that is similar to a program I participated in when I was in high school. I was also pleasantly surprised when Leslie Morales, my manager and Director of Professional Exchanges, told me that I would be entrusted with the same work that she does, as not many interns are granted such roles from the beginning. As I’m currently working on completing closing a program, I’m excited to learn how to create program drafts, SOIs (Statement of Interest), proposals, and more in the near future!

People at WTCI

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Image from: https://www.skylinescenes.com/products/baltimore-world-trade-center-and-aquarium 

The highest building in the picture is the WTCI office! I chose a nighttime picture as my work hours are at night due to the 14 hours time zone difference!

This article would be incomplete if I didn’t dedicate a section to talking about the people I’ve met and am working with at WTCI. As I’ve mentioned at the start, the people are really the star entities that make up what WTCI truly is. Despite WTCI being a large and well-known company, the people are genuinely the warmest and most down-to-earth people. 

Communication runs through the veins of the company, and as my fellow WTCI intern and an InBaltimore cohort, Asha, has mentioned in her article last week (go check out her article!), if I have any questions I can just Slack and wait for a few minutes to get an answer. I’m genuinely grateful for how much the WTCI team values and respects its interns. 

I’m a visual learner, so my managers’ willingness and eagerness to hop on a quick Slack call helped me boost my efficiency in executing and completing my tasks. Despite me being a virtual intern, WTCI has provided the most immersive experience I could have ever asked for. Thank you, Leslie Morales and Erin Karrh, my two managers, for trusting my skills and abilities, and entrusting me with a big role in the PEP & Youth Fellowships department! Lastly, thank you InBaltimore program for introducing this opportunity! I’m excited to continue this journey and to learn more in-depth skills throughout the remaining summer.

If you’d like to learn more about WTCI, please visit https://wtci.org/

If you’d like to know more about me, connect with me on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/seo-yeon-jeong-a29166200/). 

Thank you for reading!

By Contributor
Contributor