Miami Musings: Lessons Learned As A Remote Summer Startup Intern

The global pandemic had an unfortunate effect on many college students: the loss of job offers and summer internship opportunities they had worked so hard to obtain.

I found myself questioning how I would spend my summer after having an internship offer I received in early January rescinded in May. Fortunately, I had been part of TAMID, an Israel investment group on campus. A member I connected with in this extracurricular came to my rescue. He had begun remote work as the Product and Design Lead at mental wellness startup Amiso (founded by UMiami alums) and invited me to interview for their Marketing & Engagement Intern position.

Even though I had no prior marketing experience, the Amiso team put their faith in me to help drive brand awareness and growth for the brand. They were impressed with the consulting projects I had worked on in TAMID Group at Miami and admired my eagerness to learn. Working remotely for a startup taught me invaluable personal and professional lessons. I wish to share three key lessons in hopes of motivating those who may someday find themselves in a similar position

1. Practicing Good Time Management In A Remote Environment Is Imperative

As an intern, I had a 20 hour a week working requirement. This is standard for an intern. Since everyone on the team worked remotely in different cities, I had to set my own daily work schedule. I had always imagined an internship as waking up at the same time each morning, working in an office for four hours of the day, and then returning home with the rest of my day free. However, with having the unique situation of interning virtually and with a startup, I found myself with a pretty unorthodox work schedule. The work hours I would initially set for myself in the morning would not always end up coinciding with the times that my full-time teammates were working.

I quickly realized how important time management would be to my long-term productivity. Therefore, I began starting my workday at a consistent time but would then add long, midday breaks to my schedule if I was later requested to attend evening team meetings. Managing my time this way really helped me to stay focused during my work hours and not get burned out by a “long” day.

2. Take Initiative, Even When It Pushes You Outside Your Comfort Zone

Before this summer, I had almost zero experience completing hands-on marketing work. I initially feared volunteering to undertake new tasks and spearheading initiatives out of fear of failure. However, as the summer progressed, I slowly started pushing myself to take charge of projects I wanted to pursue.

For example, my boss wished for Amiso to create and run an online community of college students. The community would have a shared passion for encouraging mental health and wellness. He provided few specifics on his expectations, so I had to think creatively on how to bring his idea to life. After hours of brainstorming, I ended up running a paid ad campaign calling for college students to contact us if they would be interested in joining such a community. We received dozens of inquiries from students as a result. I hopped on Zoom calls with a couple of the students and messaged with some others before finally creating the online community my boss had envisioned. It was such a great feeling to see the hard work I put in paid off. I was able to end my internship on a high note, knowing I had made a positive impact on Amiso’s marketing efforts.

3. Take Every Opportunity To Expand Your Skillset

Since I was the only person on the Amiso team fully dedicated to marketing, I held a great deal of responsibility. This allowed me to learn new skills that I may not have had the opportunity to practice otherwise, specifically in the areas of social media marketing, communication, and project management.

I noticed that Amiso had very little social media presence, so I opted to focus my efforts on this area. I set follower and engagement goals I wanted us to hit before the end of my internship. Each day, I worked on sourcing and creating engaging content to grow our following. I also led outreach efforts by connecting with relevant micro-influencers and forging partnerships with other organizations offering services to college students. By the end of the summer, I had learned to execute a successful social media strategy. I left the Amiso team with a growing student community to build a more structured brand ambassador program and to source product feedback.

The growth I experienced by working on these various projects astounded me. Had I not stepped up and taken advantage of the opportunities I was given to lead initiatives, I would not have gotten as much out of the internship as I did.

The Takeaway…

My internship with Amiso gave me so much valuable marketing experience and taught me more about what I want in a job in the future. I aspire to pursue a career in digital marketing. Funny enough, I learned that working in this type of position in the startup environment may not be the best for me. With a startup, there is so much ambiguity across all functions because there is no past record to learn and improve from. So many ideas have to be generated, tested, and reworked – much more than in a larger company. While I loved the amount of personal responsibility and support I received, I do feel that having a bit more structure and direction works better for me. I thrive when focusing on specific projects and formulating new ideas based on analyzing what has or has not been successful in the past.

Mikaela Sanders

But what I hope people can take away from this is to really use internships as learning experiences and opportunities to further your personal growth. I feel so much more prepared for future endeavors. Not to mention, I now have so many amazing stories from real work experiences to draw from while in my search for my next summer internship. For example, when questioned about my ability to adapt, I can detail how adjusting to the ambiguity of the startup environment was a difficult but successful transition for me.

On a final note, I would like to give a huge thank you to Lucas and Chet at Amiso for taking a chance on me. You saved me from what could have been one summer-long Netflix binge by giving me a meaningful learning experience – something to work hard for and look forward to each day.

My name is Mikaela Sanders and I am a sophomore studying at the University of Miami’s Business School. I am majoring in Marketing but am also interested in double minoring in Advertising and Chinese. When I am not studying, I enjoy spending time with my friends and family, bingeing The Office on Netflix, and working on my YouTube channel.

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