The Intern Experience: Working Remotely with our Volunteer Team
Swetha Tanjore is in the process of getting her Master of Public Health and recently completed a remote internship with CMMB’s Volunteer team. In the interview below, Swetha reflects on her experience interning with CMMB—what she learned, what challenges she faced, and what advice she has for future interns.
Tell us about your internship. What stands out about the experience?
To start, I loved working with CMMB. My only regret was that the internship wasn’t in person, because of how amazing all the people are! This internship fulfilled a graduation requirement of mine for graduate school, and I definitely do not think I could have found a better opportunity. CMMB provided me with a wonderful project to work on, which allowed me to further understand and better educate myself about the wonderful work this organization does. I was able to learn valuable skills such as excel, which I know will be of great importance as I begin my career in public health. It filled my heart to see how friendly and helpful everyone was at CMMB, and I really felt a sense of community and belonging and for that I am thankful!
How did CMMB adapt your internship during COVID-19?
I was so impressed with how CMMB turned an in-person internship into a remote experience. I remember telling my supervisors Marcia and Becker how great it was that, despite all of us being online and adjusting to the uncertainties of the pandemic, CMMB provided structure through weekly team meetings, one-on-one meetings with supervisors, intern hangouts, and even all staff meetings. Additionally, while I was working with Marcia, we were able to consistently stay in touch via WhatsApp and email which, was extremely helpful. Because we were not able to work together in person, Marcia was generous with her time.
I really appreciate the efforts made by CMMB to create the best opportunities for us during this pandemic.
How did you manage working remotely?
Time management was key to remote work. I think it is easier to get distracted at home sometimes, but the weekly scheduled meetings with our designated teams and one-on-one meetings with our supervisors were great because it helped me add structure to my own work schedule from home.
Any tips for future remote interns?
I think it is important to keep an open mind and stay positive. Also, I would encourage interns working remotely to participate in all the meetings that CMMB plans out—like the intern hangouts! They were a great way to get to know all the other interns, and I definitely looked forward to them. Nothing beats being able to interact with our peers and colleagues in person, but I think it was a blessing to still be able to communicate and stay in touch with everyone at CMMB through online platforms. Even though we were not in person, there was still sense of community that I thought was amazing. Finally, never hesitate to ask questions! All of the wonderful people at CMMB are always available to help and provide you with the resources you need so you can do the best work!
What challenges did you face in your role and how did you tackle them?
The project that I worked on was creating a final 2019 impact report that showcased all of the great work CMMB’s clinical and public health volunteers did overseas. The two major components of this project were being able to organize all of the data into the excel spreadsheets and then create a report highlighting the work that was done. The data analysis and compilation part of the project was challenging because it required learning how to navigate Excel. Even though it was overwhelming at times, it was a really interesting experience learning excel. It showed me how important it is in terms of data! Finally, there are some terrific online resources that help you understand how to use excel and even teach you some useful tricks to make you a more efficient excel user!
Any advice for other interns on how to navigate learning a new skill?
When learning a new skill, it is important to be patient, ask questions, and utilize multiple resources to better understand the skill itself. With excel specifically, I would find online, step-by-step tutorials on the things I had a hard time with. Additionally, I would just take time to keep practicing those skills on the spreadsheet itself. Finally, I always asked Marcia questions! Anytime I had any difficulty, I always made sure to bring it to Marcia’s attention and we would work together to figure it out! It’s cliché but practice does make perfect!
What are your top learnings from this experience?
1. Never give up! Whenever I had a lingering issue with the data, Marcia would always encourage me to take my time and figure it out. It was amazing to have someone support me and believe in me!
2.Excel, Excel, Excel!
3. The opportunity to work closely with Marcia, and understand the work that she does for CMMB, made me realize that one day I hope to do what she does and be like her! I am very grateful to have worked with her.
Tell us what’s next! What are your future goals and how did this experience support them?
After I graduate from my Master of Public Health program, I hope to eventually work in a field of Public Health and serve communities in the context of health care access and resources, poverty, and other social determinants of health. CMMB allowed me to come out of this internship with a wealth of knowledge on how to analyze data and create a report that will showcase the needs of various populations. Being able to understand how to navigate, and analyze what has been done and needs to be done, is key!
When I first found this internship opportunity I was delighted because CMMB’s values intertwine beautifully with my own. Along with that, and all the knowledge I have gained, I am excited to see what the future holds.