My Summer Internship Experience

September 08, 2020

This year has been very unpredictable.

Full of disappointments.

And to be honest, I’m beginning to think there will never be a “normal” again.

Just to recap the last 5 months: I turned 19, I wrapped up my freshman year of college (online) and started a podcast.  I also had an internship over the summer, which is what I want to talk about today.

    This will probably come as a surprise to absolutely no one, but my internship this summer was through my local Purdue Extension Office (the ones who coordinate the 4-H program.)  If you’ve been a dedicated reader for a while, you’d know I spent many years in 4-H; and this was my first year of not being in the program.  As you can imagine, I miss it a lot.  So, when the opportunity to be a summer assistant came up, I immediately put in my application.

    This was probably at the beginning of March, right before COVID really took off.  I did not hear anything from the extension office for a long time, and when April came around I had started to assume either I didn’t get accepted or it just wasn’t happening due to the pandemic.

    Then finally, I got an email asking when I could interview.  I was so excited, considering at that point I had basically given up.  The interview, which took place on zoom, went very well.  A few weeks later, I had a start date.

    My job as a summer assistant consisted of many miscellaneous tasks; including helping prepare newsletters, program planning, making social media graphics, and working on the virtual fair.  Our normal fair was cancelled this year and moving it to a virtual format was a learning experience for us all.

    Aside from myself, there were two other interns working at the office this summer.  I was so lucky to be able to work with Ashley and Hannah.  We got along right from the start, and I honestly think working with them is what made this experience a million times better.  Before this job, I was used to working with people who are at least two or three times my age, so it was quite refreshing to be around some people closer to my age. 

    Our first big task was putting together a virtual camp for the mini 4-Hers.  I’ve had so many good memories of being a counselor at mini camp, so I was looking forward to planning and putting together this year’s camp- which was obviously very different than usual.  Ashley, Hannah, and I spent a full day looking up crafts, science experience, and other educational projects for the kids to work on at home.  We created a google site and put all our videos and projects on there for the families to access.  Later in the week, we also did a zoom call with the campers and counselors.  Even though we only had two campers join us (and both were very camera shy), it was still fun to see their faces and play some games with them over zoom.

    After mini camp, we worked on a few smaller projects over the next couple of weeks.  One of those tasks was creating social media graphics for the Facebook page.  Every year, photos of the 10-year 4-H members, along with a short biography about them, are displayed at the fair.  Because the fair was cancelled this year, we created spotlights for each of the members (and this year even non-10 year members were included) to post on the Facebook page.  We had about 22 seniors this year, so this project took a while.  In the end, I was very pleased with how the graphics turned out.  Judging by some of the comments we received on Facebook, the parents were happy to see their kids get recognized for their accomplishments.

    The next big project was creating a few more miscellaneous social media graphics for the Facebook page.  Because the fair was virtual, we wanted to share some tips for exhibiting in a virtual format (such as having good lighting and making sure the subject is centered.)  This was probably one of my favorite projects we did because it involved designing and social media, which I love doing and learning about.

    The virtual fair was another experience on its own.  Our county had never had a virtual fair before, so this was new to everyone.  The way it was organized was through a website called Fair Entry.  On that website, members could submit pictures/videos of their projects and the judges could log in to the website to judge them.  The system worked well for the most part, and we received over 800 entries.

    There was much discussion over how we would display the projects for the public to see.  Because it was all closed judging, we knew that friends and family members would want to view all the projects.  We finally decided to create a virtual showcase video that displayed all the entries and their results.  In the beginning, I honestly didn't think it was going to be too difficult.  However, after spending one whole week on just downloading every picture from the website, I quickly realized we had our work cut out for us.

    Because I was the one with video making experience (this is a great time for me to tell you to go check out my YouTube channel), the others asked me what the easiest way to go about this project would be.  In my head, I knew I could easily throw the content into my Adobe Premiere Pro software (the program I use to edit all my videos) and make a great quality video, but I also knew it was going to be difficult for the others to learn everything and to be able to do it quickly.  Thus, I proposed the idea that we create PowerPoint presentations, which we would then convert to videos in Premiere.  I figured this would be the easiest and quickest way to go about it and would not require everyone else to learn every in and out of the more advanced program. 

    I knew making the PowerPoints and grinding out these videos would be time-consuming; however, I did not expect it to take over 70 hours (and that was just me, the others worked equally as hard on it.)  The most annoying part of the process was converting the PowerPoint files to an MP4 format because the Premiere software would not accept the PowerPoints (very technical but that is what set us back.)  Additionally, some of the members had submitted private YouTube videos which could only be saved by screen recording, so that took up a lot of our time as well.  Finally, we were able to insert the files we had made in PowerPoint into the editor to put some jazzy music with it and render out the videos.

    The whole process took about a week, and let me tell you, I was finals week type of stressed.  It was such a big project and there were many times when things did not go to plan, so we had to go to plan B or even C.  Although I was very happy with the end result (and got great feedback from the 4-H families), I knew if we had more time I could have made them 10 times better (that’s the perfectionist in me speaking.)  All in all, I think it was remarkably successful but hopefully something that will never have to happen again.

    After the showcase week was over, our final project was putting together awards packets for the 4-H members to pick up.  All the members still received their well-deserved trophies, banners, and plaques as they normally would have.  Due to the event restrictions, we decided to have a drive-by pickup to distribute the awards and other goodies.  The other interns and I spent time putting together bags for each member and making sure everyone got the correct ribbons and awards.  That was a task in itself and took several days to finish, but it was well worth it when the day came to hand them all out.

    One of the worst parts of everything being virtual this year was not getting to see all the kids with their projects or showing their animals.  Instead, I only got to see their names on a computer screen.  However, I did have the small chance to put faces to some of the names at the project pickup.  While we requested that everyone stay in their vehicles, we still got to see the smiling faces of some of the 4-H members as we handed them their bag full of ribbons and other awards.  Those moments are what made all the hard work pay off.

    While this was certainly a different experience than I had originally anticipated it to be, I still enjoyed myself.  I was dealing with some hardships in other areas of my life during the same time as the internship, so going to the office and getting to work on these projects with such amazing people was a huge distraction for me.  With all the disappointments this summer brought, being to do this was such a blessing and I will forever be grateful for this amazing experience.

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