telecommuting and internship experiences for millennials

Brent Matheny is a sophomore at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio studying Mathematics and Philosophy.

Brent Matheny is a sophomore at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio studying Mathematics and Philosophy.

My Summer as an Intern - Brent Matheny

For the summer of 2016, I had the opportunity to work for Synchronicity Consulting as their first summer intern. After securing the position in mid-May, Sonya and I were faced with an obstacle. I live in Florida. The 900 miles of interstate that lie between Palatka, Florida and Cleveland, Ohio seemed a little long for a daily commute, so we decided that it would be best for me to do the internship virtually, that is, by telecommuting. My everyday tasks would be mostly solitary. I would be doing research on whatever topic or project Sonya had at hand that she needed more insight on. And even when I needed to interact with other people, it would be over the phone, taking notes during meetings or sending emails. It seemed that I would be able to do everything I needed to do right at home. By all accounts, it has worked out beautifully. I have been able to help construct Synchronicity’s first solicitation packet, provided Sonya with research on a variety of topics ranging from LeBron James’s career to proper etiquette for an American in Moscow, and I have acted as a personal scribe for Sonya’s calls with various clients.

Telecommuting is becoming an integral part of our economy, both nationally and around the world. Global Workplace Analytics found that from 2013 to 2014 the employee population as a whole grew 1.9% while employees who are telecommuters grew by 5.6%. A recent Gallup poll found that 37% of U.S. employees have telecommuted at least to some extent for their current job. I think it may be safe to say that telecommuting is here to stay and will only continue to grow in popularity. That being said, telecommuting is by no means a “one-size-fits-all” solution. When improperly implemented telecommuting can lead to employer dissatisfaction if the employee is unable to complete tasks in a timely manner or is not independent enough as to require frequent checking-in-on. In other cases, it may lead to employee dissatisfaction if needs and abilities are not properly conveyed and too much work is piled on them, causing them to be unable to make deadlines. When properly implemented, there is chemistry between employee and employer as well as a sense of trust and respect, trust that what needs to get done, will and respect such that both parties are able to communicate with each other easily and effectively. In a way, it is both a hands-on and hands-off method of working. It is hands-on in that employer and employee must both understand what is expected out of each other, and hands-off in that the employee must be able to work independently while maintaining productivity. 

This summer has undoubtedly been an example of telecommuting done right. The similar ways that Sonya and I approach tasks allowed us to tackle projects effectively. Regular check-in have kept workflow consistent and focused. My time with Synchronicity Consulting has been a positive one that has provided me with great insight into the world of consulting and has given me a chance to sharpen my skills in a real-world setting giving me valuable experience that will be useful in my future as I develop my career.