Home Work

Divi the dog sitting on a desk staring at the computer screen while her person works

Virtual internships offer students both career-building opportunities and the flexibility to work from home.

Photo credit: Nora Lewis

After landing a summer internship at FM Global last November, Ryan Barker ’22 worried it could be canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

URI interns working virtually for FM Global
Clockwise from bottom left, URI student interns Yeury Galva Liriano, Evan Wildenhain, Ryan Barker, Steven Josephson, Lauren Poirier and Keia DePina at FM Global. (Photo courtesy of Lauren Poirier)

“This was a huge opportunity and I did not want it to disappear,” said Barker ’22, a mechanical engineering major. “I was very surprised when I got the news that it would happen. Even though it’s not in the office or full time, I’m very grateful for the learning experience.”

Barker is one of eight URI students hired as summer interns or co-ops working remotely for the Rhode Island-based mutual insurance company.

Overall, FM Global hired 50 interns and co-ops for the summer working remotely in corporate headquarters or other offices worldwide, offering them earnings equivalent to entry-level employees in the same positions. “Interns add tremendous value at FM Global and so we made accommodations for them to work remotely and have a great intern experience,” said Steve Zenofsky, assistant vice president, public relations.

‘I’m treated like I add value to the company’

Lauren Poirier ’21, a public relations and English major, interned over the summer with FM Global’s public relations team, and her internship continues into the fall. While she acknowledges that having the chance to meet her team face-to-face would have been nice, she doesn’t feel she’s missed out by working remotely.

“You don’t get to go for coffee in the cafeteria with different people on your team,” said Poirier. “But at the same time, we have so much technology at our fingertips. If I want to talk to someone, all I have to do is ping them on Skype, send them an email or call them. So, I feel everyone is just as accessible to me as they would be if I was in the office, perhaps even more so.”

Poirier has worked on enhancing the corporate online newsroom, contributing to marketing campaigns, and placing numerous stories about FM Global in media outlets. “Being able to apply everything I’ve been taught in my classes at URI has been a bit surreal. When you’re in the classroom, you can lose sight of the fact that the concepts you are learning are used on an everyday basis by people practicing your intended career,” she said. “I truly feel that I am treated as a full-time employee at FM Global. I’m treated like I add value to the company, that my experience and ideas are worthwhile.”

‘We can handle the responsibility of working from home’

In Barker’s internship, which continues into October, he uses computer-aided design (CAD) to produce preliminary sketches of FM Global-insured buildings, and he has learned about fire prevention methods. “Career-wise, I never thought about potentially becoming a loss prevention engineer,” he said. “But ever since I’ve had this opportunity, it has piqued my interest a lot.”

Computer science major Yeury Galva Liriano ’21 was in a co-op position in the Agile department, which works on rapid development of technology for products and services. “Everything I’m currently doing is exactly what I want to do when I graduate,” he said.

Andrea Monteiro, a senior in global business management and Chinese, was an inclusion intern in the human resources department, working on initiatives such as an intern recognition project, diversity recruiting strategy, and implementing new language augmentation software.

“This internship has been great in helping me decide my future career path,” she said. “Coming into the position, I didn’t really know what path I wanted to follow, but after meeting so many great people and working on these projects it has influenced me to potentially pursue a career in human resource management or project management.” Working remotely prepared her for the current semester, she said, and showed her it can be done smoothly.

“Working from home has made me even more responsible and self-disciplined,” added Poirier. “I believe it will make me and my fellow interns more marketable upon graduation because we have proven that we can handle the responsibility of working from home. We can get things done.”