Virtual Internships Abroad Discovering New Possibilities
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November 11, 2020
Jacob Robbins, CAS '22
In some ways, the remote nature of my internship has made it even more of a global experience than it would have been in person. If I were interning at Solar Latam, an Argentinian solar installation start-up, in-person, my responsibilities would be limited to Latin America. I would be conducting market research, automating the sales process, and preparing marketing materials as I do now, but with a focus on a particular Latin American country. Now that I am working remotely, I have been working with people and projects beyond Latin America.
Remote work has enabled me to work simultaneously across multiple parts of the country and the world. From my home in California, I work daily with Solar Latam’s Argentina office and its Miami office to assist with the launch of the company’s American subsidiary, Volt Solar. On a typical day, I have a conference call with my supervisors in these locations before working on projects with my fellow Penn intern, Chloe, who is based in New Jersey.
As for individual work, I’ve been getting exposure to the solar industry, consumer culture, and workplace culture around the world. I have put together reports on the solar market and consumer trends in locations from Florida to Chile to Australia. I have explored perspectives and approaches toward sustainable energy from Germany to Uruguay to Italy. I have also had the chance to practice my Spanish on calls and presentations with my supervisor and coworkers in Argentina.
Another thing that has made this internship a global experience has been the programming from our internship coordinator, Puentes. Through our weekly Zoom calls, I’ve had the unique chance to meet students from around the world, hear about their internship experiences in Latin America, and learn about Argentinian culture. I have also had the chance to attend seminars on professional development and learn how to make the most out of remote work. Additionally, my Puentes mentor, Alicia, and my SolarLatam mentor, Alex, have been a huge help in navigating the online internship experience and the Argentinian workplace.
Though it hasn’t been a conventional internship experience, working remotely has enabled me to learn and work more globally than I had previously thought was possible. It’s been nice being able to work internationally while still being able to enjoy the benefits of being home. Ultimately, working with Solar Latam from my home in California has been a formative experience and has opened my eyes to the possibility of working remotely in the future.