Virtual Internship Stories: Ana Maria Rodriguez

September 14, 2020

Introduce yourself! What’s your name, where are you from, and what is your internship?
My name is Ana Maria Rodriguez, I’m from Houston and I’m working with the Santiago Center as their communications intern. 

Tell us a bit about your internship? What are some of your daily responsibilities?
I try to dedicate about 2 hours a day on the internship, but my day-to-day responsibilities change based on what I need to do that week. Sometimes I’ll be doing research for a webinar, which can be done at basically anytime, and sometimes I’ll be doing interviews or edit features, which are a lot more structured and need to be done in more of a typical 9-5 workday. On a typical day though, I’ll wake up around 10 or 11 and then have breakfast and get to work for about an hour. I’ve been doing a lot of baking with my brother, so I’ll often take a break and do some of that, then go back and do whatever else needs to be done that day. 

Why did you pick this internship?
I was looking through Santiago specifically because I speak Spanish, my family is Colombian, so I wanted an internship that was more in that region. I applied to a few that were more CS related, and a lot of this communications work has been website work as well. That’s been something that I have some experience in, so I was looking to do something with that.

What have you learned from this experience?
While I am already versed in website things, the sides of communications that are talking to people, and sending out emails, and trying to engage people was not something I’ve had a lot of practice with. Already, I’ve learned a lot. I’ve also been doing some feature writing and other types of writing I haven’t really done before : especially as an engineer, what kind of writing do I do? So I’ve learned a lot of that working with Chris.

How does this internship compare to past internships or work experiences of yours?
This past year I was doing an internship with a non-profit in person, and it was about the same 10hour work schedule, but I would do it in more 5 hour increments. It is nice in the flexibility you get with virtual internships because it's more independent projects, but it's harder in that you can’t immediately get help if you are stuck on something. I was not very comfortable with professional emails and phone calls and zoom calls before all of this so that took some adjustment, and I definitely prefer the in person contact, but the flexibility, and ability to do it at different times and do whatever my family needs me too as well is definitely a plus. 

How do you cope with Zoom fatigue?
It’s definitely hard to keep focused, so if I start feeling that kind of frustration hit, I’ll try to get outside and remember that there’s an actual world out there. It does help being home with my family - there's five of us so there's always someone to talk to. To some degree though, you do need to just kind of push through it, it is our new reality.

What advice would you give other virtual interns?
I think that you shouldnt be afraid to reach out and ask questions. It’s something I struggled with at first, because like I said you can’t just go and ask casually, you have to send a text message or an email or whatever, but I think it’s important to keep asking questions.

Do you have any book, music, movie or TV recommendations from quarantine?
I’ve been getting a lot of reading done, which is nice because I haven't done this much reading since middle school. I recently read Homegoing, which was really good and eye-opening, but I’ve also been rereading the Percy Jackson books so you know, it’s a good balance.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Hmm...this is hard, I want to go everywhere! I guess Santiago, it would be really cool to go to Chile. Plus I keep forgetting they are in winter right now, and it’s so hot here in Texas so it would be nice to go somewhere a bit cooler.

What three things would you bring to a deserted island?
A pizza, a book to read, and my best friend.