Virtual Internship Stories: Naz Bilecik
Introduce yourself! What’s your name, what college are you in at Columbia, and for whom were you interning last summer?
My name is Naz Bilecik and I am from Istanbul, Turkey. I am currently a rising senior in the School of Engineering and Applied Science at Columbia University, studying Operations Research. Last summer, I was a Virtual Regional Intern at the Columbia Global Center in Istanbul.
Tell us a little bit about your work. What were some of your daily responsibilities?
The goal of the internship was for me to serve as a liaison between students in the region and the Center, as well as a bridge between undergraduate and graduate students, to create virtual regional student communities. My day-to-day responsibilities varied based on what goals we had for that week. Some of my primary duties were preparing a database of current and incoming Columbia students from Turkey to identify the regional student population, creating posts for our social media accounts, and helping edit the Columbia Global Center Istanbul 2019-2020 annual report. Additionally, I wrote stories on the online events organized by the Center with prominent leaders in the area, which got published on the Columbia Global Centers website.
How would you compare the experience of a virtual internship to a more traditional, in-person internship?
I was mostly working on independent projects, which allowed me the flexibility to arrange tasks around my own schedule rather than going to the office during set hours. Communicating with others over professional emails and Zoom calls without having a chance to meet them face-to-face took some time to adjust, but overall, it was a great experience.
What was your schedule like during quarantine while working on this internship?
At the beginning of each week, I had a Zoom meeting with my supervisor to discuss our goals for that week and the specific tasks that I would be working on. I usually spent 3-4 hours working each day on a flexible schedule.
What was a specific project on which you’ve worked/worked that was especially engaging or rewarding?
I helped organize a one-week virtual social entrepreneurship workshop for high school students in Turkey. We aimed to provide students with a platform where they could apply an entrepreneurial way of thinking and become familiar with the commonly used business model canvas and funding terms. At the end of the workshop, students had the opportunity to design their own ventures and present their pitches to two successful Turkish entrepreneurs.
Do you have any tips for future virtual interns?
Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance from your co-workers. It might seem more challenging to reach out to others when you can’t get to know them face-to-face but remember that people are usually more than willing to answer your questions!