Interning During a Pandemic

My name is Max Brown and I have been interning at Mulberry Marketing Communications for summer 2021, since the beginning of June. I am a student at the University of Edinburgh and am about to start my 3rd Year of a Chinese studies course.

Work aside, it has felt like a rollercoaster of a summer, with everyone in the UK jointly experiencing our emergence from winter lockdown, a Freedom Day delay, and then finally the return of life as ‘normal.’ All the while jabs going into arms. The transition of COVID rules over the course of the summer has been exciting for many, scary for others, but emotional for all. And I think that the current state of the country and world presented a very unique backdrop for someone to take on their first desk job work experience.

In fact, as a direct result of the pandemic, one of the hardest challenges I faced in this internship emerged. If you asked me what my first commute would look like a couple years ago, I doubt that I would have said, “walking from the kitchen to my bedroom desk.” No, this long and complicated commute is not the challenge to which I am referring to. Rather, it was the absence of a shared workplace. An office enables you to get to know your colleagues quickly, and easily buy into the ethos and identity of the operation which you have just joined. I believe having a shared workplace increases the strength of a team’s identity and spirit, which in turn encourages harder, more productive work, with greater engagement.

Opening up my laptop on Day 1, I suddenly realised that I would need to work a lot harder at building relationships with my colleagues than if we had been in person. I do not know what I was expecting from the online experience, but I must say it was a tricky environment to enter and start from scratch in getting to know people. Even a year and a half into the pandemic, it remains a strange social experience, getting to know other human beings only through means of electronic communication.  Nevertheless, I feel I have been able to get to know my colleagues well over the course of the internship and it has been really great fun and very insightful to work alongside them – even if I have only seen their faces a handful of times, and only met two of them in person.

I have no doubt that everyone has had to face similar challenges over the course of the pandemic and ensuing lockdowns, and I can only wish that in the near future we can see the return of offices and shared workplaces – even if it does lengthen the journey from the kitchen in the morning!

My internship has certainly been defined by its highlights. The team at Mulberry have been very helpful, friendly and understanding. I have learned so many new skills from working alongside them and experiencing the professional nature in which they operate the agency. I have enjoyed being kept busy with a steady workflow and have felt my confidence grow massively with the support of the Mulberry team, who I knew I could rely on for if and when I felt the need to ask questions or take constructive criticism.

The work I have undertaken has been very rewarding. I have taken great pleasure in particular from research tasks whereby my research has ended up playing important parts in final presentations. I also was able to partake in an in-person workshop with a potential new client to discuss branding and marketing strategy – this certainly stands out as my favourite assignment of the internship.

In summary, the pandemic has affected, is affecting, and will continue to affect almost every aspect of life. My summer internship at Mulberry has been no exception. Perhaps this is why I am now walking away from it feeling so satisfied with my experience and what I am taking away from it. Despite the unique challenges of communicating only via the internet, I have met, worked with and got to know a truly professional team of people, all with their own brilliant insights. Despite being in my room all day, I have contributed to important work that affects lots of people and businesses. The only way to grow as a person is to push your comfort zones, and I have certainly been doing that here at Mulberry all summer.

I would like to thank everyone at Mulberry for the opportunity to spend the summer here. I have had a great time working with you all.