South Dakota Network LLC

10/23/2020 | News release | Distributed by Public on 10/23/2020 15:25

The year of the pandemic internship - How SDN made it work

SDN Communications' Cybersecurity Awareness campaign, taking place throughout the month of October, is the product of two summer interns, working with the marketing department.

Kendall Fouts and Chandler McGrath were two of eight area college students who interned at SDN Communications in 2020, working in a variety of departments. This annual program is a win-win for students, who gain experience and sometimes college credit; SDN is able to create relationships with potential future employees or customers. 2020, however, provided some different challenges as many of the interactions that took place between students and supervisors were all done virtually.

SDN employees began working remotely in March. When interns joined the team, they rolled right into the remote work plan being used for all employees, said Vernon Brown, vice president of marketing and community relations at SDN.

'We had a number of our interns hired by the time the pandemic hit, and we felt an obligation to them, especially since some of them need internship credits to graduate,' Brown said. 'We knew it would be odd with no in-person contact, which is part of the learning and communications experience, but we still received good reviews from them.'

A South Dakota State University senior studying advertising and Spanish, Fouts was grateful to have the internship experience despite the pandemic. Before working at SDN, Fouts was on the fence about whether she'd seek to join an advertising agency or to do in-house marketing for a company after graduation. From her experience this summer, she's leaning more toward in-house as she's able to dabble in many different areas.

Fouts extended her internship and is still working remotely from Brookings. This month she is part of the team executing the cybersecurity campaign she worked on over the summer.

Supervising interns was also different. Marketing Specialist Nikki Gronli supervised Fouts and McGrath in the marketing department.

'Managing the intern program remotely forced me to be more organized but also more nimble overall,' Gronli said. 'When handing off projects, I really paid attention to all the details. Since interns were no longer able to just turn around and ask questions I was trying to think ahead and avoid anything that might slow them down.'

Being flexible also paid off when projects and events that past interns have been a part of the planning and executing evolved to a virtual setting or went away altogether, Gronli said.