August, 2020 Colin Gersch and Nathan Budke

PowerPoints, projects, and pajamas: our virtual internship experience

Intern 1: Hi I’m Colin!
 
Intern 2: And I’m Nathan!
 
Colin: And we are this summer’s interns extraordinaire here at Northbound.
 
Nathan: And what a summer it's been...
 
(Both Laugh)
 
Colin: Obviously this spring and summer have been ones for the history books, as everyone is trying to adapt to the ongoing changes both within the country and in regard to coronavirus at large.
 
Nathan: As the world at large begins to shift to accompany the changing role brands play in our daily lives so does the world of brand marketing here at Northbound.
 
Colin: There are always more products and services that need to be named, the naming machine never stops.
 
Nathan: No, it most definitely does not.
 
Colin: Just as the world has changed so much within the past few months so have my expectations about what a “typical internship experience” would look like.
 
Nathan: I couldn't agree more...who would have thought that I could go to work in cookie monster pajamas and get away with it on a daily basis?
 
(Laughs)
 
Colin: In all seriousness though, how did it feel trying to onboard on to a new team without being able to actually meet any of them in person?
 
Nathan: It was unlike the on-boarding process for other jobs I’ve had for sure. If I were to sum it up in a sentence, I would say it was a two-week process of learning, adapting, and patience. Flexibility was definitely key because this was just as much the first time for Northbound to onboard someone remotely as it was my first time being remotely on-boarded. Nobody was 100% sure that we would have everything we would need to be successful, so it just took a bit more time to transition.
 
Colin: I expected to go through the interview process online, but I never thought I wouldn’t get a chance to shake someone’s hand in-person...
 
Nathan: ...let alone even get to be in-person to work with them! (sad chuckle) Luckily, though, we were fortunate enough to get to go into the office a couple of times to see it in person, what was that like from your perspective?
 
Colin: It was definitely a strange experience. As an intern, normally your first day at the office you have that butterflies in your stomach kind of feeling where it's a mixture of nerves and excitement. However, I only felt that during my first Teams meeting. For me, going into the office felt like one of those field trips you took back in elementary school where you get to see this unique cool space but only for a short while before its time to return home.
 
Nathan: It certainly looked like a cool place to work when it was full of people!
 
Colin: I think the biggest adjustment so far has been the amount of screen time we are getting while working from home; do you think technology has influenced this internship more than you initially expected, or less? What are some of the technological boundaries you have run into that you wouldn’t have had at the office?
 
Nathan: Technology is the only reason this internship could have happened in the first place, given the pandemic shutting things down. The toughest barrier I’ve encountered is that in meetings, the etiquette of being online is such that you don’t want to try to talk over people because there is only space for one voice at a time. I think this really has slowed down the conversations a bit because two people can’t develop an idea verbally at the same time anymore. That, and the fact that if someone goes quiet you have to wonder if they’re thinking, if they accidentally muted themselves, or if they got kicked from the call...
 
Colin: ...there’s nothing like eloquently explaining your thought process only to realize the one-person listening was your dog...
 
(Nathan Laughs Out Loud)
 
Nathan: You’ve got to love the pets coming through on calls! But we have gained more than just memories of cute animals this summer What would you say is your biggest takeaway in terms of the brand strategy work you’ve done at Northbound?
 
Colin: The most important thing I have learned about brand strategy during my time with Northbound is that even if a project is short, brand strategy isn’t. It’s a long-term plan that is flexible and has specifically designed goals that are directly connected to the consumer’s needs, emotions, and the competitive environment. Most of all, what I have learned is that even during a time of unrest when it feels as if things are falling apart, a strong brand strategy can help your business stay focused on your long-term goals and thrive even in the toughest of times. What are some of the most valuable things you’ve learned thus far?
 
Nathan: The most prominent thing that I learned from the internship is probably how much goes into all the facets of brand strategy. I mean, in classes I’ve learned about naming,  brand compasses, and SWOT analysis, but getting to actually work on and see the hours of backend work making those deliverables come to life has been eye-opening, and I must say, I’m liking what I’m seeing. Northbound has a fantastic group of people who, even though I never got to meet them in a traditional way, have made me feel like part of a team this summer and for that, I say thank you. I guess that would be the “life” takeaway; having a good group of people in a positive environment is the best recipe for success in the new business landscape we’re finding ourselves in.
 
Colin: I couldn’t agree more, the culture behind a company is what creates the direction of the company. I think that with all the things changing in the world right now my greatest realization has been that the world runs on people. People are what it takes to make a change in the world, solve our biggest problems, and help businesses succeed.
 
Nathan: Definitely, and I think that is something that will become more prominent going forward as the meaning of “going to work” shifts to just “working.” The pandemic has shown a lot of industries that meeting in person is not required to have operations still function. It doesn’t matter where they are, it's the people that make the business run.
 
 
Nathan Budke | Strategy Intern                            Colin Gersch | Strategy Intern 

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