Tyler Hollis, junior actuarial science major, is spending his summer as intern working virtually for CNO Financial Group.
Hollis said in an email he is currently working with the company’s health valuation team in their actuarial department.
“As of the first week of the internship, I am learning more actuarial language and getting to understand the programs/software that are used in the department through various tasks assigned to me by my manager,” he said.
Carolyn O’Donnell, vice president of organizational development at CNO, said in an email due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s summer internship has been changed to an online virtual internship.
“A virtual intern program experience, though directed by our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, also serves to prepare our interns for the ever-increasing virtual workforce that will continue to grow throughout their careers,” O’Donnell said.
She said CNO is committed to helping provide students quality summer internships.
“Our summer internship program has long been a core part of who we are here, and this public health crisis won’t stop us from giving both young grads and our own business a leg up by helping these interns gain meaningful real-life work experience,” O’Donnell said.
Hollis said CNO is doing a good job with its remote internships because it imitates real-life internships.
“I am still able to connect with co-workers and executives through virtual meetings where we can introduce ourselves and get to know each other as if we are talking in person,” he said.
One advantage of virtual internships, O’Donnell said, was an improvement in communication between interns and employees.
“Associates are participating more and connecting more as office geography doesn’t play a role any longer,” O’Donnell said.
She said it also adds a more light-hearted “humanizing” component in their day-to-day interactions.
“In an office, although you have small talk about the weather and weekend plans, you don’t see someone’s family member unexpectedly do an unintended photo bomb or dog jump up and lick someone’s face,” O’Donnell said.
In general, she said she believes remote internships can be useful in an intern’s career.
“I believe that that going virtual will challenge our interns to be self-starters and really hone their time management skills,” O’Donnell said. “Additionally, this experience will help push our interns to take the initiative and be proactive self-starters, which are skills that will help them throughout their careers.”
She said she sees benefits of remote internships like interacting with some of the company's key initiatives — one being diversity and inclusion — "which fosters and encourages an inclusive work environment.”
Hollis said he encourages other students to always consider doing internships during their academic journeys, even if working virtually isn't the ideal situation. He said CNO's virtual internship program mimics the “in-real-life” feel of the original in-person internship.
“If anyone has doubts about getting out and trying to get an internship, I would advise them to work towards getting one because it allows them to experience much more about how a 'real-world' job functions, as well as, permitting you to build connections that you can use when you are ready to find a full-time job after you graduate college,” he said.