By: Rudy Folk – Sr. Talent Aquisition Specialist
Internships have always been more than just a “job” at Colony Brands. Our program is an empowering experience for young professionals and is a key channel into our company’s talent pipeline. So, when we were faced with the threat from the coronavirus, rather than canceling our program, we dug in and adjusted our internships to meet the new reality. Alongside the HR team, our front-line managers took on the challenge of how to remotely incorporate students into the organization, while ensuring an engaging and meaningful internship experience.
Some of the adaptations we have made to support remote recruitment, interviewing and onboarding:
- Recruitment: All spring and fall college career fairs were conducted virtually via various video conferencing platforms.
- Interviews: Rather than inviting students on-site to visit our facilities and meet with our teams, we connected with them on Microsoft Teams. A cross-functional group of employees produced a video that highlighted our student programs, which was an instrumental tool in showcasing life inside the Colony walls.
- Onboarding: Strict social distancing and risk mitigation strategies were followed during our Orientations. To reduce our overall size of the group for safety and limited interactions, we split into 2 sessions and provided only the required information while on-site. This eliminated professional development courses that are typically offered on Day 1. These courses were eventually re-formatted and offered virtually to our groups.
This was our first year testing virtual Internships, and while it was challenging, it was also very, very exciting. Many of the adaptations made in 2020 will be carried into the 2021 program, ensuring a valuable and safe experience for the students and teams.
What have been some key takeaways/learnings from your current Internship?
Ava Donofe – TD/QA Intern: I am an intern on the Technical Design team, majoring in fashion design. Through this internship I have been able to expand my knowledge of what it means to design for a consumer, understand their needs and then provide the best fit so they have a positive experience with the garment. I have had the opportunity to work in the fit sessions where the models try on the garments and the technical design team highlights changes that need to be made. From there, I have been able to work on creating comments and measurement changes to the garments which get sent out to both domestic and international vendors. Through my internship at Colony Brands I have learned more about my career field, been given opportunities to work with coworkers in other departments and learn more about my personal skills in a professional environment. Colony Brands truly cares about you growing and learning what you need to while interning to set you up for a successful career.
Meagan Cosgrove – Operations (Monroe): One thing that surprised me was how fast every department within Colony Brands was able to come together and support our production department. It was amazing to see employees volunteer time out of their day to work in production so we can further meet our goal.
The biggest challenge I faced was learning how to supervise a large group of people. Prior to this internship, I had experience managing employees one-on-one or in small groups. I was able to use my previous knowledge and immense support and training from the Monroe Fulfillment management team to overcome this challenge.
Abby Baumgartner – Brand Marketing Intern: Learnings that I have taken away from my Brand Marketing internship is improving my time management skills; while working with multiple brands you are delegated to numerous tasks, having time management skills is a must. In addition to time management, improving my public speaking through presenting to large groups and executives has been a generous takeaway from my internship experience.
How has COVID impacted your Internship? What department changes have you experienced due to Covid?
Ava Donofe – TD/QA Intern: Due to COVID, majority of the work on the Technical Design team is now done out of the office. With this change, all meetings are held via Teams and most communication is done via email or Teams IM. This has provided me the opportunity to improve my writing communication skills, something crucial to the workplace more now than ever. From this internship, I am confident in my skills to work remotely, manage tasks on my own and navigate a new workplace environment.
Meagan Cosgrove – Operations (Monroe): COVID-19 has had a tremendous impact on my internship, but it has led to positive outcomes. For example, I was challenged to better my communication and leadership skills. Before COVID, managers, supervisors and line leads were able to work closely with production employees for training and assistance. With COVID, we adapted by training and assisting production employees through a barrier or from 6ft away, which meant we oftentimes had to rely on our communication skills to walk an employee through a process.
Abby Baumgartner – Brand Marketing Intern: COVID has impacted my internship by denying the experience of in person relationships. While working remote I had the opportunity to work with various departments and create new relationships with others I did not work with in my prior internship. Although we have only met via Teams meeting, they have made me feel like a part of the Brands.
General notes on your Internship experience.
Ava Donofe – TD/QA Intern: Moving to what I thought was the middle of nowhere, I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into with this internship. Colony Brands has exceeded all expectations from the first day I was on campus (not to mention, Monroe is an incredible little town). The work culture is one that cultivates growth by encouraging you to step out of your comfort zone. You are not getting coffee for a manager or doing silly tasks, you are given responsibility and treated as an equal to the other members on your team. Everyone truly wants to see you succeed and will go out of their way to create opportunities for you to do so. I was able to take classes which helped me identify my personal strengths and weaknesses in the workplace, how to improve those skills and work even better alongside others. In addition to all of the knowledge I have gained with Technical Design, I have learned many soft skills that could have only been grown in the workplace. These skills will help me be a better employee in any job I take on in the future. I am so glad I have had the opportunity to intern with this company and would truly recommend this experience to anyone interested.
Meagan Cosgrove – Operations (Monroe): This experience as an Operations Intern was more than what I had anticipated. I have been given endless opportunities to learn and grow professionally. Most importantly, the knowledge I have gained will be applicable throughout my entire professional career.
Abby Baumgartner – Brand Marketing Intern: I am very fortunate to be able to intern here at Colony Brands for a second time, the experience was exactly what I was hoping for and more. In fact, the experience was so valuable and educational that I am hoping to intern one more time here at Colony Brands. At first, I was challenged to adapt to remote communication but through time and continuous learning, communicating remotely has become comfortable and convenient.