There is More Value to an IT Internship than Technical Skills

by | Sep 17, 2020 | ZAG Culture

With fall rapidly approaching, we start to say farewell to our summer interns. This year we were blessed to have two exceptional students join us, both from the University of Oregon. We asked them to share a little about their experience working at ZAG. We start with Garrett Halseth, who’s studying Sports Business and Entrepreneurship. Garrett worked in our marketing department.

As the COVID-19 pandemic was sweeping the globe, I was at a loss for what I would do this summer. Businesses were closing everywhere, sports were canceled for the foreseeable future, and internships were getting canceled left and right. While I was hoping to be working for a sports management company, it looked like I was going to work for the Department of Agriculture in Washington state. Then I heard about ZAG Technical Services.

After learning they had a remote internship open in their marketing department, I quickly hopped on the opportunity. It was finally time to get some real business experience. As I got on my first video call with my soon-to-be manager, Robert Collings, I had no idea what to expect.

Over the past three months, I gained extensive knowledge on the use of social media and social publishing tools, writing and editing blog content, creating, launching, and repositioning campaigns, paid advertising, and a lot more. I did not know a lot about IT or the IT industry, but with all the market research I did throughout the internship, I became much more well-versed. This value can be transferred and developed to grant me success across all industries.

Working from home

Unfortunately, due to coronavirus, I was not able to meet everyone at ZAG in person. However, the company is an avid user and supporter of the Microsoft Teams platform. I can confidently say that I spend 70%-80% of my typical workday communicating and working through the platform. Whether it is through the video chat function, instant messaging, file-sharing, or calendar scheduling, I am constantly navigating through the many applicable facets of Microsoft Teams.

Virtual collaboration technology enables company culture to be alive and prevalent. Every two weeks, the company holds an “All-hands Town Hall” meeting, where all employees are encouraged to hop on a call and hear from the company’s CEO, Greg Gatzke, about new opportunities for the business.  ZAG employees also have the opportunity to give announcements, recognize wins, or speak to a topic they are passionate about. This keeps the team connected when we cannot have the meeting in person. Additionally, we have messaging channels to act as a ‘water cooler’ discussion, keeping the casual side of business alive.

The remote work environment was very suitable and productive throughout my internship. At the start of the day, I would join a video call with my manager to discuss our daily plan. After, I began working, checking in with Robert every hour or so. Communication is everything in remote work. When everyone is in the office, you see and hear about changed plans in real-time. While remote, it is not that easy. I learned very quickly that it is more efficient to consistently communicate with your team than to close off and stick to yourself.

Future of business

My internship experience and the market research I completed while with ZAG has solidified my belief in that remote work is here to stay. I am a strong supporter of a hybrid remote structure, allowing employees to come into the office a couple of days a week, or stay at home to work if they prefer. The flexibility will give the employee the freedom to work in an environment where they feel most productive and effective for the business.

We cannot predict the future or what it is going to look like, but we can learn from the past. COVID-19 shows that if we maintain a flexible mindset, we can adapt quickly and change business strategy to avoid unexpected obstacles. As businesses reopen and get back to full operational capacity, I foresee hybrid remote options being implemented globally and across all sectors. It proved to be successful for me and my experience with ZAG.

How an IT internship is relevant to sports management

The biggest surprise from this summer’s internship is the applicable knowledge I have obtained from my time at ZAG, more specifically to my passion for sports management. One of the important concepts Robert explained to me is that leadership is, basically, the business of managing talent.

Brilliant ideas have no value if they cannot be executed. That is where the talent recognition comes in. Whether you are hiring for your team, or deciding whether an athlete has the potential to make it to the pros, you need to assess whether they have the heart and drive to get the work done when faced with unexpected obstacles. Without this, they are destined to fail. Regardless of what industry you work in, skills and talents have no boundaries.

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