At the beginning I was afraid that I would not have much interaction with my colleagues and won't receive enough support when needed. However, my Line Manager and all other colleagues have been really friendly and willing to help with whatever I needed. Furthermore, I had regular virtual social events (such as coffee catch ups, quizzes, solving riddles) and also had the chance to meet virtually some of the executives and directors of the company. All in all, this virtual experience has been one of a kind for me and I have fully enjoyed this learning experience.
I have had the opportunity to work in a company with such a great culture. The managers have always tried to provide me with constructive feedback and make sure I know how well I have completed my tasks. For example, I had to prepare for an important presentation in front of some senior managers and got praised for the work I have done but at the same time received useful feedback for improvement. When it came to present my findings, no one had any questions and I even received lots of 'well done' messages.
I had regular catch ups with my Line Manager to get to know, if I had been struggling with something. What is more, I was able to reach out to her at any time and receive support or have any questions answered. At the beginning, I did not fully understand the specific tasks that I was responsible for. Therefore, my Line Manager spent good two hours going through the basics and what is expected to deliver at the end of the virtual internship.
Having the ability to work virtually on the internship allowed me to develop great collaboration, communication and resilience skills. Especially, when we had to cope with the unreliability of the internet connection. Personally, I should admit that those soft skills would help me tremendously in my future studies and career as interaction with other people is key. What is more, I had a lot of opportunities to practice my presentation skills, expand my network by connecting with other colleagues and take my Excel and Data analysis skills to a very advanced level.
Since this was the very first time, a virtual internship had to be organized, there have been a few unclear things before the initial start. For example, I did not know the actual program / schedule for the internship when I started and also had some timetable clashes within the first week. However, those were resolved and further communicated with me so there was nothing big to worry about. May be another thing I should mention is that there were a few technical issues with setting up my account but those were also resolved.
At the beginning, I knew that the atmosphere would be great as I have been keeping in contact with my Line manager and internship buddy who greeted me with a lot of positivity and great attitude. Additionally, I felt really welcomed by the early careers team who welcomed us on the first day and were always smiling and keeping the atmosphere positive. It was great to see that when I felt a bit sick, I received a lot of support and even got offered a day off to recover.
I had been granted with access to all the online learning resources, which are available to all the colleagues. What is more, the early careers team organized virtual learning sessions on some essential soft skills (e.g. collaboration, communication, resilience). Specifically, I have also had been offered training sessions on advanced excel formulas and coding for finance so that I can be more efficient when working. Apart from that my Line manager wanted me to set up a personal development plan and try and improve on the skills I listed there.
Even though, I had the opportunity to work closely with my Line manager and other interns over those six weeks, I feel that this did give me enough of a perception of what it would be like to work into the office. On the other hand, the virtual internship helped me to understand how great the people and culture are in the company and showed me that even with everyone working from home, they have kept a great attitude and team spirit, which is really important for me.
The virtual internship experience helped me to understand how great the people and culture are in the company and showed me that even with everyone working from home, they have kept a great attitude and team spirit, which is really important for me. Furthermore, I had the chance to meet with Tesco leadership team and executives and was able to ask them questions about the strategy, culture, innovation, products etc. This was great considering I had to do it from home, without having actual office interaction.
Another great thing about this virtual internship is that I had been given great responsibility from the very first day and this helped me realize what I could expect when I get into a full time role. Furthermore, I had the chance to speak with a lot of colleagues from different departments (audit, project management, planning, etc.), thus, understanding a lot more what I can do, if I decide to get into one of those roles.
Let me first say that when I had to travel to North London and had to spend around £40 on train tickets to get there, I got all those expenses back within a month. Furthermore, when I got the email about switching the format of the internship from office to virtual internship, I was told that the length will be changed from 10 weeks to 6 weeks. However, they ensured me that everyone will receive the money for the initial 10 weeks, even though, we were going to do only 6, which was great and showed me that they would go above and beyond.
I had lots of different opportunities to do networking and meet other colleagues within the internship. Although, initially I thought it would not be possible to socialize and engage with others in a virtual experience, I was proven wrong. Firstly, I had the chance to meet with Tesco leadership and executives and ask them questions about the strategy, culture, innovation, products etc. This was great considering I had to do it from home. Moreover, I had the chance to speak with a lot of colleagues from different departments (audit, project management, planning, etc.) and connect with those people. Personally, I believe that this was a great opportunity for networking.
As I mentioned earlier, I had lots of different opportunities to do networking and meet other colleagues within the internship while at same time having really fun social events. Although, initially I thought it would not be possible to socialize and engage that much with others on a virtual experience, I was proven wrong. For example, we had an organized online yoga session, food challenge, quizzes and chat roulettes, which were all great ways to get to know the other interns and colleagues.
Yes, actually, I found out that there are engagement teams in each department, who are responsible for the organization of social events (e.g. Christmas dinner, Easter holiday, other parties or sport challenges). Furthermore, the engagement teams arrange weekly information paper with key events or interesting stories. Another way to get involved with activities outside work is to get involved in the variety of sport teams that are created by colleagues. However, currently only virtual activities are allowed due to the pandemic.
Taking everything into account, I would definitely recommend this virtual internship (if they decide to do it again next year) to anyone who has a passion for delivering great customer experience and is interested in the retail industry. I have to say that the great culture and the people working at Tesco have played a key part in offering such an unique and fantastic experience. Finally, I want to say that all the things I have learned for the those six weeks, I would definitely be able to apply in my future career, which is great and not to forget to mention about the huge amount of responsibility I was given. It is an experience that I would definitely do again.