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Virtual Internship Experience: Internal Communications at General Motors

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University of Massachusetts student Aaliyah pictured on a video call with the CEO of General Motors, Mary Barra, and text reading Virtual Internship Experience: Internal Communications Intern at General Motors

Back in November 2019, I accepted a summer 2020 internship with General Motors (GM). I fully anticipated that I would be moving to Detroit for the summer and working in person at the Renaissance Center, one of GM’s many corporate buildings. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, I ended up working completely virtually from my childhood bedroom in Massachusetts. While I was very intimidated and nervous about conducting such an important internship from a completely different state, now that I have completed my summer with GM, I am incredibly thankful for the virtual experience. Here is how my virtual internship experience went this summer. 

What were you doing in this role? What stood out to you about the work you were doing?

This summer, I interned virtually with the internal communications team at GM. I was very fortunate to work on a multitude of diverse and meaningful projects during my time with the company. Some of the bigger projects I worked on were pitching, developing, and publishing 25+ pieces of multimedia content across GM brands for the internal website, named Socrates, and planning and executing the internal communications campaign for the release of the 2021 Chevy Tahoe and 2021 Chevy Suburban. I also had the awesome opportunity to work alongside corporate communications & human resources to plan and coordinate the Intern Super Slice, featuring CEO Mary Barra. I was even selected to work with the CEO as the moderator for the Q&A session. Overall, my unique responsibilities this summer not only gave me a taste of the company as a whole, but pushed me to grow not only as a professional — but as a person. 

What stood out to me the most about my work this summer was how much ownership I was able to have over my projects. My manager and team allowed me to take the lead on all my projects, and encouraged me to use my unique insight when navigating my tasks. I was able to tell stories that I found meaningful and even suggested new ideas to our editorial team, which I was always able to write. As an intern, it was incredibly meaningful to be able to take the lead on all of my projects.

How did you find your internship?

I found my internship on LinkedIn. If anyone is interested in pursuing this internship next summer, I suggest checking out the job listing!

How did the process of a "remote internship" go for you?

Truthfully, it was a much more seamless transition than I could have ever imagined. Before my first day, I was incredibly nervous about how this summer was going to go working at home. I have had other internships in the past, but never in a fully remote capacity like this one. Even on day one, my team included me right from the start. Within a few days of my first week, I already had multiple projects to work on and meetings to attend that made me feel like I was at the office. While I will admit that working remotely is intimidating at first, I was easily able to adapt to this new work environment and truly do not feel like I missed out one bit being a remote intern at GM. 

Who did you meet? 

While I was able to meet and engage with high-level individuals in marketing and communications across the GM brands, various engineers, HR representatives, and several interns from all over the country and world — one of my favorite people I got to meet was the CEO of General Motors, Mary Barra. Never in a million years would I have ever imagined that I would get the chance to meet and work with someone like Mary, but I was able to engage with her and numerous other senior leaders within the company. I believe that this speaks to not only the value of GM’s internship program, but how much they value their interns.

What skills did you develop during your internship? Did it teach you anything new about yourself or your career prospects?

I would say that my storytelling abilities developed greatly in this role. Working with the internal communications team not only enhanced my skills as a writer, but exposed me to many sectors of the company. I was able to tell stories about our products and brands, employee features, intern highlights, top news from our CEO, and just about anything that was pushed my way. Through this, I was able to not only grow as a writer, but understand what stories our internal audience enjoyed reading.

This internship taught me a lot about myself and my career prospects. This was my first strictly communications role. In the past, I mainly held marketing communications roles and always envisioned myself staying on a more marketing path in my career. This internship opened my eyes to the endless possibilities in a communications career. As I move forward in my professional career, I am incredibly interested in exploring more communications roles due to this experience.

Are there any big impacts (for you, for society) from the work you were involved in?

Absolutely. One thing in particular that drew me into GM was their work towards an all-electric future and their triple zero vision: zero crashes, zero emissions, and zero congestion. Every single thing I worked on pushed towards this larger goal, and that was something I truly valued in all my work. I also had the amazing opportunity to work with the electric vehicle education team on their electrifying engineering video series by writing the weekly recap of the videos. I am very big on STEM enrichment, so I loved being able to tell these stories each week to inspire the next generation of diverse leaders in STEM.

What advice do you have for someone who wants to do something similar?

Do not be scared about exploring virtual internships. As we progress forward to an uncertain future of work, I highly recommend looking into remote internship opportunities. While it may be intimidating, and a hard adjustment from what you are used to, there is an immense amount of value in internship experiences, even remote ones. The skills that I learned from working remotely are highly valuable, unique, and something that will stick with me even when I return to an office setting.



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