5: Solving Problems/Improving Leadership – negatives of remote work

Given that my internship is remote, I cannot claim to be able to fully observe the environment nor draw conclusions for areas of improvement for the organization as a whole. Much of my interactions with others are in the form of one-on-one conversations or small groups based on project assignments, which also makes it difficult to speak to operational strengths and weaknesses at large. What I can speak to are areas for improvement within the virtual internship program, as this is the first time FRONTLINE has offered a fully remote internship.

I have found it difficult to meet people because of the nature of remote work. I have taken it upon myself to reach out to people I am interested in speaking with to set up virtual coffee dates. Everyone I have reached out to thus far has been very willing to set up a meeting and all have expressed their regrets that remote work has made meeting the interns outside their specific departments more difficult this summer. Therefore, one improvement I think should be made is organizing for interns to meet with more employees. Because there is no bumping into people in the halls or grabbing lunch with others, scheduling these meet ups would be a good way to ensure that interns feel more immersed in the organization as a whole, rather than just their specific department/with their direct supervisor. I would also suggest creating more opportunities for the interns to connect with one another. This past week, the intern managers thought it would be a good idea to have an intern luncheon for the interns at FRONTLINE across departments, and I was selected to host the event. I thought the event was successful and valuable because we got to talk with each other about the projects we’ve been working on and the people we have worked with. These conversations also gave me ideas about who I wanted to reach out to in my final weeks. However, this was the first time all of the interns had the opportunity to talk. I wish more of these events had been scheduled earlier and throughout the summer. Even though work is remote, this has surprisingly not resulted in miscommunication nor a lack of feedback, however I think there has been a lack of the quantity of communication, and a lack of the casual yet vital conversations that often happen organically in an on-site setting. 

I also think that by organizing such meet ups, it would benefit interns’ understanding of how the various parts of content are created and come together. As an intern, all-staff meetings are the main opportunity I have to get up to date on the status of all of the projects underway. When I am assigned tasks, they are generally very specific, smaller parts of larger projects at a time, such as being tasked with fact-checking a section of narration or a source’s claim for a film. I sincerely enjoy this detail-oriented work, but it often prevents me from gaining a sense of how all the parts of a project come together to form the final project. I know how my work fits into the whole, but I do not know much about the other parts. I have been told by former interns and supervisors that this is simply the result of remote work – if I was on-site, I would have had many more opportunities to learn about other aspects of production and see how films, podcasts, etc. come together. Therefore, I think organizing meetings with more employees would give interns the opportunity to ask about other aspects of production. I also think intentionally keeping interns more in the loop on other aspects of production would be helpful, potentially by creating a virtual group specifically with the intern managers and interns. Interns are never intentionally kept out of anything, but this group could be a centralized place where the managers could share opportunities to attend events/meetings and send information about other production aspects.