When the COVID-19 pandemic came, I was determined to learn and make the most of my time despite that fact my family and I are at increased vulnerability to the virus. Even before the pandemic, I found virtual learning a suitable option for me. My high school consisted of all virtual classes. I was able to continue my music, publish a novel, and create countless paintings. During high school, I learned what it meant to work independently while balancing schoolwork and activities. Because I have years of experience with remote learning, a remote internship was second nature to me, and I can share some benefits to this approach.
Benefit #1: Maintain Your Lifestyle
Remote learning allowed me to continue current projects and work around my interests. The pandemic opened a whole new array of virtual options. I always hoped to go abroad someday, as our Italian heritage is important to my family. I searched and asked my home institution what they recommended, and it was IFSA. My internship was with the KEM Hospital Research Center in Pune, India, where I advocated for disability rights, women’s empowerment, and the protection of children. Now, I could go abroad (at least figuratively), enhancing my at-home learning as I simultaneously took courses with my home institution and continued my violin and voice lessons. In addition, I applied this semester and have been accepted for the Faculty-Student Collaborative Scholarship to conduct research around my interests. Also, Rollins College accepted my grant proposal to initiate Disability Empowerment Week, spring 2022. Maintaining this lifestyle and continuing with projects that interest you is a big benefit of a remote internship.
Benefit #2: Flexibility / Work From Anywhere
Working in a remote internship with IFSA allowed me to soar across the sea to India without leaving my childhood town. During the semester, my father received some news about a surgery he would need. While he was recovering at the hospital, I wanted to stay with him. Even though I could have opted to take a day or two off work, I decided to stay in his hospital room and continue work. That is another perk of virtual learning. I was able to work from anywhere, even if it was under trying circumstances.
Benefit #3: Work Buddies
When I was home working, my two rescued sister kittens named Clara and Noelle stayed beside me. They love to spend time with me as well as my family. Whenever we leave the house and return, they are like puppies coming to the door. Had I traveled abroad, I wouldn’t have these creature comforts.
IFSA gave me the opportunity to continue work on a global scale, and continue to feel safe by working from home. As someone who is at increased vulnerability, I recently received my first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and will be receiving my second dose soon. I am grateful to have experienced a global work environment from home while advocating for human rights. Even if my internship were not during a global pandemic, I would advocate for virtual opportunities. I have been able to balance my work, school, extra-circular activities, and even family emergencies.
Elizabeth Smith is majoring in music with a health communication minor at Rollins College. She completed the Remote International Internship with IFSA in Spring 2021.