The Coronavirus pandemic has forced students to drastically change their lifestyles and spend more time indoors than they ever imagined.
Yet life at IE University continues on, with classes taking place virtually and internal departments working hard to provide support for students. As part of this support, Talent & Careers have been searching for online-based opportunities and corporate collaborations so students can continue building their professional profiles during this time.
Most of the students who began their internships before the lockdown came into effect are now carrying them out online. Eduardo González Canal is one of those students.
Eduardo is in his last year of the Bachelor in Business Administration and decided his final semester at IE University was the perfect time to pursue a six-month internship. Although his time at Wayra—Telefónica’s corporate open-innovation project—began as an in-person internship, it was forced to continue online after the Coronavirus pandemic.
Eduardo has shared his experience of his virtual internship with us.
What company are you interning with and what are your responsibilities?
I am doing my internship at Wayra, Telefónica’s corporate open-innovation project. Present in seven accelerator hubs and active in ten countries in Europe and Latin America, Wayra has one clear objective: to help startups scale.
My role there is to support the portfolio management team. We follow, analyze, and help any of our different hubs depending on what they need.
Each one of these hubs is responsible for managing the investments that Wayra has made. But with the recent crisis, we need to conduct deeper analysis and provide broader support to predict the impact that Covid-19 could have on every startup in our portfolio. As a team, we have to make sure that all the Wayra-backed startups will emerge from this situation with the least amount of damage possible.
How did you secure this internship? What interested you about it?
After taking part in an exchange program, which turned into an unexpectedly amazing experience, I wanted to complement my academic life at IE University. I decided to do an undergraduate internship, which would provide me with a more thorough idea of the job market.
I have always had a strong interest in private equity, venture capital, and real estate. I thought that an internship in Wayra could introduce me to this environment and show me the reality of life in this world. I was not wrong: my first experience in this environment has proved extremely rewarding.
What can you tell us about the transition from a face-to-face internship to a virtual internship?
Huge corporations such as Telefónica are always in the public eye. They are expected to be agile and quickly adapt to what each specific situation requires with precision. In this regard I believe they did a great job.
When the government started considering the introduction of mandatory remote working, the company reacted swiftly. They told us that at the end of each working day we had to bring our laptops home, just in case the following day we could not go back to the office.
As it got worse and we were told by authorities to work from home, the situation changed. I can only speak about how my team adapted to this new situation. Our manager set a daily 15-minute “virtual coffee” with all our team to keep everyone up to date and the team spirit alive.
Thanks to online applications that allow us to work on the same file at the same time—alongside videoconferences and some other similar tools—it was not that hard to adapt and start working from home. The key was just to reorganize our time and prove that we can also feel close to an individual, or a whole team, even when we are not in the same country.
What do you think are the pros of carrying out a virtual/online internship?
I don’t think that doing an internship is just about improving and applying all the theoretical concepts learned while at university. It’s also about building relationships and personal skills, learning how to interact with your work colleagues, and discovering how to build and to feel part of a team.
This isn’t as easy in an online internship but you learn to overcome the limitations and insecurities that come from changing to a virtual working setup from one day to the next. Then there is also another very positive advantage of remote working—the amount of time you save. This is especially true as Telefónica’s complex is located in Las Tablas, and Madrid’s M30 and M40 roads are extremely crowded during mornings and evenings.
What do you miss the most about not actually going to the office?
Without a doubt, what I miss the most is having a coffee together with my colleagues as we talk about our day, our experiences, or how the company is doing. I miss the human side of my job. Those informal moments of the day to day at the office help keep you motivated at work.
What are your post-graduation plans?
Once my internship at Wayra is finished I would like to get into a venture capital company or to work in the finance department of an important corporation. Ideally, this would happen abroad so I can experience living and working in different countries, such as the UK for example. But I would always intend to come back to Spain afterward.