By Marlee Moore
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, my summer as an intern at the Accountability Lab occurred remotely. In the midst of the pandemic, there were unconventional challenges and experiences for a typical summer internship. Despite the pandemic and working remotely for the Lab, I however developed a sense of belonging within my team and learned from my peers. The Lab managed to do a brilliant job in the face of these circumstances, offering resources, support, and opportunities to ensure this internship remained a positive experience for me.
However, that does not mean that the internship did not entail various challenges for me. Many of these challenges were unique to working remotely, but many were merely those that inherently occur while working through new experiences. I worked in three different countries and seven different cities during my time with the Lab this summer. Naturally, this led to challenges regarding time zone differences and communication constraints.
The multinational nature of the Lab and my team members made it effortless to overcome these challenges. Through many WhatsApp messages, a few emails and reminders, and more than one missed zoom call, I learned to navigate these challenges. Through the support of my team members, I was effectively able to learn skills that made navigating communication across various time zones and teams significantly easier. I value the patience that was shown towards me during this time and this further showcases the exceptional team, community, and environment that exists within the Accountability Lab.
It took time for me to adjust to navigating the multitude of teams and people involved in the organization. However, my team members supported me as I learned the ropes even when I missed a meeting or two. Through reminders and endless email chains, I encountered many people in the other country teams and had the opportunity to sit down and communicate with my own team members hundreds of miles away from me daily. Communication, although challenging, was handled deftly within the organization. I am appreciative to have learned the importance of structure and the core systems that enable organizations like the Accountability Lab to operate. Additionally, I hope to carry these skills into my future endeavors.
The key factor in developing a sense of community and support throughout my time as an intern came from our ordinary check-ins. Having the opportunity to discuss with anyone on our team about serious work matters or intriguing pieces of our lives enabled me to better know my team members better. It would have been relatively easy to feel disconnected while working remotely, but the daily check-in remained an ideal structure to promote connection. It evoked a sense of inclusion that would have otherwise been lost. With the aforementioned issue of timezones, it was also the optimal time to ask team members for support, schedule meetings, or check-ins. These daily check-ins were the crux in the curation of my sense of community and a key to clear communication while working remotely.
Covid-19 and working remotely did not prevent me from learning and connecting with my team. It did not hinder me from feeling included in the team or remove the sense of community that is important to have with coworkers. I will carry the skills with me especially those related to communication, time management, and the reminder that you can have fun and remain productive and professional as I move forward.
I am grateful for my time at Accountability Lab, for the work everyone does, and for the work I was able to aid in. I hope to see the Lab continue to carry out extraordinary work around the world while maintaining its remarkable level of community and communication.