It was September 2019. The internship drive had just begun in college. Being a 5th-semester student, I was excited to interview with many companies that were starting to come. Geeksforgeeks, Hackerrank, LeetCode, everyone wanted to be thorough with their preparation. It was the first time we were facing real recruiters.
The first company that came was Expedia Group. I had heard a lot about it, but had never used it personally. The pre-placement talk was so mesmerizing that I knew I had to do well. The coding round was the following day. Later that day, I found out that I was shortlisted. That was a great feeling. I prepared myself to smash the interview. Dressed in formals, I made sure I looked my best. After an exhausting day of multiple hours of interviews and many more hours of waiting, the results were out. I had been selected to work with them for the coming summer. Also, this was the day before my birthday. What better birthday gift than an internship offer!
The feeling of soon going to be an earning member of the family is indescribable. So much responsibility, so much to learn. It was a total mixed feeling. But deep in me, I knew I was going to a good job.
After a few months, it was June of 2020. The time to join the workforce. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, there was a lot of chaos. For the safety of their employees, they decided to make the internship virtual.
We had a week of boot camp to completely prep us with basics. Code quality, testing, bird’s-eye view into areas like Machine Learning, Security, and many other exciting fields were all given to us by the best in the industry. I finally got to meet my team, the ones I was going to work with for the coming 8-weeks. I met 3 other students who were also interning for the first time, just like me.
During my internship, I got to work on leading industry technologies like AWS, Python, Junkins, etc. The whole learning experience was great. My manager and buddies constantly supported my team to complete the task well in time. We got to enable spot instance support to flights and cars services and can proudly say that we enabled a cost reduction of about 25% in these services.
I am extremely grateful to my manager for having faith in our capacity and providing us with a project that is crucial to Expedia Group and its expenditure. I have seen myself grow from being someone who was not confident about taking up big challenges to someone who believes in herself and her strengths and that anything is possible with hard work.
After finishing our project, we had the opportunity of presenting our developments to all the employees of EG. Many people joined the presentation and made us feel extremely proud of ourselves. The early careers team was super supportive the whole time in providing us with all the necessary help.
Coming to the fact that all this was virtual, the experience did not feel less rewarding when it came to learning. I still got to have meetings, discuss problems and got all the help I could. I felt more productive as traveling to the office was not required. And because of its virtual nature, I was not confined to work with people from my office, I got to meet employees world-wide. We had leadership sessions that enlightened us with how the company works and how they make the big decisions. We also had fun activities as a part of social meets every week. Here was the chance to meet new people and make friends.
A virtual internship might have several disadvantages and disappointments, especially for someone like me who loves to meet new people every day. But there is a bright side to everything. Not much can be done in extreme situations and how we adjust to changing environments tells a lot about us. With all the latest technology available today, work from home has become a routine and this extreme situation has made us embrace these changes.
Virtual internships can be as fun as on-campus ones if you have the right mindset. I learned to enjoy, no matter where I was put, or whom I had to work with. It is a different experience all by itself and I was lucky to experience it :).
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