How many people can say they wore sweatpants to their first day of work? Or shared an office with their family dog (who was often invited to more conference calls than I was)?
In a year filled with uncertainty, I didn’t know what to expect from my summer internship at Erie Insurance. What I can say with certainty, though: this was an internship unlike any other.
Hi! I’m Ashley, marketing intern at Erie Insurance and first-time remote employee. (Although due to the coronavirus pandemic, I suppose a lot of us are first-time remote workers.)
When I began my internship search in fall of 2019, ERIE was at the top of my list. As a native of Erie, Pennsylvania, I’d already heard amazing things about the company’s reputation, community involvement and dedication toward their employees.
As you may have guessed, I got the job! Then… COVID-19 happened.
Let’s Go Virtual
Fast forward to April 2020, where I– like many interns across the U.S. – was anxious whether or not I would have an internship that summer. While my friends and classmates were mourning the loss of theirs, I was refreshing my email to learn the fate of mine.
The day I received a notice that my ERIE internship was still on, but would be a virtual experience, I literally jumped for joy.
Even though I wasn’t in the office, ERIE provided these perks to help me stay connected.
- Mentor: On day one, I met my personal mentor who helped me navigate ERIE – both the company and the remote environment.
- ERIE swag: I was surprised by a fun package in the mail with my own ERIE branded pen and notebook.
- Insurance careers: While my internship was in the marketing area, I quickly began learning all the different career opportunities available at ERIE. (Spoiler alert: The insurance industry has many career paths beyond my first thoughts of underwriting or customer service.)
- Work-from-home tips: My team gave me some pointers for remote work, such as setting alarms to remind myself to go for a walk or break for lunch. (Here are some other WFH tips from ERIE employees who do it all the time.)
- Real-world projects: I began projects on my first day that I later realized would help my team and make a real impact on the company.
Across the company, each intern was placed into an Innovation team. Interns from information technology, underwriting, actuarial, marketing and more were asked to use the established innovation process to solve a business problem relevant to ERIE. These problems ranged from the challenges ERIE was discovering in the new remote environment to growing trends in the insurance industry (autonomous cars, anyone?).
This project gave me the opportunity to connect with other interns and form professional connections I was afraid I would miss out on in a remote environment. What excited me most was being able to present our findings and share our thoughts on how a Fortune 500 company should move forward. Leaders across the company sat in on our presentations, analyzed our research and asked for more insight on our ideas. I was honored by how much ERIE valued our research.
Throughout the summer, I was able to network with leaders from different departments and hear about their stories, careers and advice. Not only did I learn that there are endless career opportunities in the insurance industry, but each person I spoke to made me feel welcome and a part of the company.
Eddie Xu, a software engineering intern in the enterprise content management department, echoes this, describing ERIE’s corporate culture and employees as “super friendly and helpful.”
“Especially when working remote, it’s important to stay connected with your fellow interns, your supervisor and mentor,” Xu said. “I definitely felt welcomed to just reach out.”
In lieu of the in-person social events we would have otherwise attended, the intern social committee and ERIE’s Talent Acquisition team planned several fun virtual events to partake in, including:
- Career Development Sessions: Members of ERIE’s Talent Acquisition team held panel discussions on how to prep for interviews, format our resumes and tips to grow our professional network.
- Lunch with Leaders: ERIE CEO Tim NeCastro and other leaders across the company met with us over video chat, sharing their career paths and answering our questions about jobs in the insurance industry.
- Community Service: We had the opportunity to raise money for Pfeiffer Burleigh Elementary, ERIE’s Adopt-A-School.
- Virtual 5K: While interns were working remotely across ERIE’s footprint, we all took to our favorite hiking path or roadway for a fun virtual 5K. That was my favorite event… even if I did walk it!
DISCOVER AN INTERNSHIP WITH ERIE
Living in an increasingly digital world, I would not have changed one thing about my online summer experience.
Although this year was unpredictable, I would venture to say that 2020 summer interns are among the most prepared and resilient employees entering the workforce.
Internships are crucial experiences to explore and determine a career path. At ERIE, the opportunities for interns continue to grow each year.
Curious about what a career in insurance might look like? Find out more about internship opportunities with Erie Insurance.