Virtual Internship Stories: Beatriz Oliveira

September 14, 2020

Introduce yourself! What’s your name, major, and where are you from? 
I’m Beatriz Oliveira. I’m Portuguese, and I’m a student in the Dual B.A Program between Science Po, Paris and Columbia, and I’m in the School of General Studies ‘22.

For whom are you interning and through which Global Center?
I applied for an internship with a law firm in Brazil called Felsberg Advogados, and that’s what I’ve been doing.

Tell us a little bit about your work. What are some of your daily responsibilities?
I’m working in the business development team, so that’s a sort of marketing team, so we’re creating a new website and making it more dynamic. I actually applied for this because of the fact that it was a law firm, and I hope one day to go to law school. I just wanted to have a feeling of what it’s like to work in a law firm environment. Regarding my responsibilities, I do a lot of interpretation and translation of legislation, so I get sent legal alerts written in Portuguese, and I have to sum them up and rewrite them in English. Since I’m Portuguese, I deal with both languages. I think that’s actually really interesting for the fact that I’m interested in law because I learn a lot about how Brazilian law is evolving through the pandemic and how different corporate investigations and compliance and environmental law are evolving—all of these that I’m really interested in. I also have a more creative job within the team because I have developed YouTube thumbs for social media, so trying to develop visuals and creative new things for social media. In this case I worked on YouTube only because there’s a designer on the team who actually does more of this sort of job than I do. We have meetings every other week. So every other week it’s a team meeting, so I meet with the business development team, and we talk about the responsibilities of each person and keep each other updated. Then every other week, I have a meeting with the Business Development Committee, so that includes the partners of the law firm. In those meetings, I participate a little bit less, but they are interesting to be in because they talk about how each practice area is facing the pandemic, how the market situation is for each practice area, so I get a feeling of how the law firm is functioning—so that’s really interesting for the future, I hope.

How would you compare the experience of a virtual internship to a more traditional, in-person internship?
I think the one good thing is that it’s really focused on actually doing the job, so since there are no specific hours to be in the office, I just do what’s necessary and when I’m done, I have more free time. For example, it was nice during the summer since I always had time to do things on the side with my friends or other things during it, not a lot obviously since the pandemic, but I could still go to the beach or something like that. Since the time difference was quite significant when I was in Portugal, I had a big part of the afternoon to do things for myself and the evenings to work, so it’s a lot more flexible than an actual internship, where we have nine to five, regardless of if we have a lot of work or not a lot of work, so that’s more flexible. In terms of learning, I don’t think it’s less of a learning experience. We have to be open to working in these new ways, but since I really wanted to gain some experience during the summer because I was planning on doing an internship before the pandemic, and I really wanted to do something with my time, I think if you’re open to that, it works really well, and the team was really welcoming. It was rather easy to integrate with the team and work with them.

What is your schedule like during quarantine while working on this internship?
It actually depends on the day and the amount of responsibilities I have for that day because sometimes I can have two alerts to write a day and that’s it. So I dedicate like two hours, but I can have three, four, five alerts, or I have to translate a whole page from the old website for the new website because we have a series of alerts that were not translated before, so I have to translate them to update the new website. Because I also have to write them on the new website, I sometimes have a list of 50 articles on the website, so that means I have to dedicate a lot more time. Since I was in Portugal for the biggest part of my internship—because of time difference—we had to adapt to that, so it was a bit more flexible because I was working during the night. Sometimes it was a bit late, I was working not at the same pace as everyone else, but now since I’m in New York, it was a bit easier because we have almost the same time. It’s just a few hours a day, sometimes more on other days.

What is a specific project on which you’ve worked that was especially engaging or rewarding?
I really enjoyed doing the YouTube covers for the YouTube channel and social media, so that everything was standardized. Since it’s the celebration of the 50 years of the firm, they’re trying to renovate and modernize the website, the social medias, the YouTube channel, so everything is being redone, and that was really cool because aside from my interest in law and politics and all of those things that I really hope to pursue professionally one day, I also really like exploring creative hobbies, so this was good because I got to do that while doing something that is within my interests. I also really liked the translation and interpretation of articles, legislation, and legal alerts because even if the goal of this is to have text written for the website, I start to read them, and I’m really engaged with one article, so I go an explore a lot about that article, about that topic, so that really allowed me to learn a lot about certain topics that I found really interesting. Even though I wasn’t asked to do that, I was always researching more when I found stuff interesting.

Do you have any tips for future virtual interns?
I think the most important thing is keeping an open mind. It’s not a regular internship, and maybe it’s not how we’re used to working all the time, but if you keep an open mind and keep yourself interested by exploring things by yourself and trying to make this a learning experience, you have to really commit yourself because you’re not in the office, you’re at home. Sometimes you’re in the mood to—I don’t know—go watch Netflix. But if you keep an open mind and say, “Okay, I can actually learn from this” and actually discipline yourself, it goes just fine and just like a regular internship.