Virtual Internships Abroad Overcoming Challenges and Accomplishing Goals

October 8, 2020
By Nikolas Mihailidis, SEAS '23

This internship has added a lot of value and challenge to an otherwise uneventful summer at home. This summer was one filled with uncertainty and doubt. Due to the extended quarantine, most of my time was to be spent at home, and thus, the internship was a very fulfilling way to spend my summer while having so much free time to explore my interests. Most of my work was done from my living room while being in the company of my parents and sister. Starting off the internship, I would begin my work sometime around the middle of my day, and continue working through the afternoon and evening until my work was complete. I would send in my work in the evening, and due to the time difference with the company, it would be morning in Seoul. My supervisor would receive my email, and if needed, we would use that time to communicate and set new goals and plans for the coming days.

The first half or so of my work experience followed this general schedule; I used the time and first few projects to familiarize myself with the skills and tools needed to complete the internship. I started becoming much more comfortable with using Python, and I familiarized myself with machine learning libraries like Facebook Prophet and TensorFlow, also learning how to implement new models like linear regression and LSTM. This segment of the internship went fairly smoothly, and I met my first major challenge about halfway through. At this point, I also began taking a summer course, while I also had to manage more difficult projects, and suddenly, time management became a much more important part of my daily schedule.

My course required me to complete weekly homework assignments which were quite difficult and time-consuming, and I would make sure I had that done first, as soon as possible. With my final project of the internship, I began to hit an impasse, feeling that it was too difficult and I was not making adequate progress, like I would never finish it. This is where I began contacting my supervisor and the engineers at the company far more often, and their advice was a significant factor in helping me understand how to go about the project.

Towards the end of the internship, I felt that something finally clicked in my head, and I understood everything I needed to do for the project. Taking the next few days to finish it was one of the most satisfying and fulfilling experiences of the summer. I felt that I was able to make huge leaps in my skillset over the course of the break, and being able to finish what I started gave me great pride in that I had accomplished something tangible.