Interning during lockdown
The world of work has been turned upside down by the Coronavirus pandemic. Ambitious about Autism intern Alina Ali, experienced disruption during her five-month placement with media agency m/Six earlier this year.
In this blog, Alina talks about the experience of taking part in an internship during the lockdown.
How did I cope with lockdown?
When I first heard the news of lockdown, I couldn’t imagine that COVID-19 would become a very major event. Since the beginning of March, many line managers, interns and other team members became quite concerned. Luckily, I was prepared as there were open and honest discussions around remote working. At m/Six, we implemented remote working a week earlier than the actual lockdown date of 20 March. I was given reassurance and an incredible amount of support from my Ambitious about Autism coordinators, line manager and the customer experience team.
At first, I wasn’t used to working from home as I had never worked from home before. It was quite a bit challenging getting used to the new routine and trying to set a structure for lunchtime, having a break, and getting some fresh air and exercise while getting my work done to the highest standard possible.
I think that adjusting to remote working was quite hard during the first week as I was used to working in collaboration with my team face-to-face. I think that the constant stream of communication helped as my team created two meetings during the day to check how everybody was doing and what we were getting up to, so we could stay in sync with our tasks and also get to know the opinions and thoughts of what our goals and achievements were at the same time.
What did my regular day look like?
Most of us would think that a regular day would be the same day over and over again. However, each day varied as I had meetings, tasks and admin work to catch up on a day-to-day basis. The tasks were quite similar to what I had been doing in the office, such as writing SEO optimised blogs and attending meetings with my line manager.
How did I cope when things got tough?
I think that it’s essential to take breaks when you need to take them and also speaking with my line manager was very beneficial. I also found doing tasks in collaboration via Zoom quite helpful as well as it made sure that I, my line manager and the rest of the team has close communication between each other to make sure that we were okay and check in our daily tasks.
At times things would get quite challenging to balance working from home and learning how to prioritise tasks. I think that it is critical to create a timetable and learn how to stick to it while also taking breaks to make sure that you create the best standard of work as possible and have an adjusted version of the work/home balance.
What have I learnt during my time in lockdown?
I think that the significant thing which I’ve learnt about myself is how adaptable and flexible I can be. A lot of the time with many people on the spectrum, people like to say that we are very rigid and inflexible in our approach. However, I have learnt a new way of working despite work at home and despite it not being my favourite option. I’ve learnt how to cope with anxiety, where to go if things don’t go well and also to take breaks and take some time for myself when I need to. Exercise and going out is vital to stay healthy and allows you to focus on your tasks ahead.
I have built quite a bit resilience and yet have still been able to do tasks involving teamwork with ease, which I never thought I’d be able to before lockdown. Prioritisation is key to creating a schedule and is part of juggling tasks when working from home. Communication is also a must during these unprecedented times.
About the author
Alina Ali is a blogger, artist, photographer and poet. She took part in an Employ Autism internship at m/Six between January and May this year.