Hello everyone, my name is Khouri Lassiter. I am this spring’s Leadership Programs Intern for Victory Institute. I am the person behind some of the blog posts published this spring and I also did behind-the-scenes work to best support my team and Victory overall! I currently attend Towson University where I am a first-generation senior majoring in Family and Human Services with a minor in Disability Studies. After I graduate, I plan to go to graduate school to obtain my Masters in Public Policy or Masters in Social Work to continue my work breaking institutionalized barriers for marginalized communities.
Navigating my internship at Victory, a full course-load at Towson, and my part-time job has definitely been challenging this semester. I got to dig a little deeper into my experience being an intern in a global pandemic with Victory.
Victory Institute: What has it been like to start an internship during a pandemic?
Khouri Lassiter: Being an intern in a global pandemic has its advantages but it also has its disadvantages. The first pro is not having to drive in DC traffic, as a DMV (the metropolitan area of DC, Maryland, and Virginia) native, I grew up taking the train, and driving in DC is something that I avoid doing at all costs. Another pro is knowing that everything is online. My team at Victory really showed me that they were intentional with our relationship building. Being virtual can be awkward sometimes, especially if you are just joining a team! They really went the extra mile to not only ensure that I was comfortable and a part of the team, but also that we had our own individual connections.
But there were cons to not having that in-person experience. I think a big piece of being an intern is going into the field that interests you and having that meaningful experience. Therefore, missing out on office culture and just everyday internship tasks was a loss. Another con is just technology: many times, I have had bad Wi-Fi and once there was a power outage and I began to panic because everything is virtual. Not only does that affect my performance at my internship but it affects my schooling and my other job, which is also completely virtual because of COVID-19. I am so glad that my team extended that grace to me throughout this virtual world we are currently living in.
VI: What is the biggest barrier to working from home?
KL: I think one of the biggest barriers for myself was maintaining my morning routine and school-work-life balance. Since the pandemic started, a lot of people have had a challenging time separating work and home because home is now where we are doing our work, internships, doctors’ appointments, etc. I find that, for the most part, I can stick to my routine but having those heightened weeks at the internship and school, I would find myself working on internship projects during school time and vice versa. While I have improved upon this, I find that it is something that I still struggle with.
VI: What is something valuable you’ve learned from your internship?
KL: There are a lot of valuable things that I have learned at Victory. I am so grateful to be able to have a team that really catered to my goals for this internship. The most valuable thing that I have learned is the power that I have to take hold of my internship. Early on, when meeting with one of my site supervisors he grounded me in the fact that this internship experience is mine and because of the nature of my team, I was able to identify the skills that I wanted to enhance and the overall goals that I had set for my time at Victory. I think often as interns we may look at ourselves as here to serve the people that we are interning for but I believe the relationship is more bi-directional than that. Once I was able to see that and really take hold of my internship experience, I was able to get everything that I wanted out of it.
Another valuable lesson that I have learned is that growth is not linear. Throughout my time at Victory, I was assigned and tasked with projects that I felt I lacked enough skill to complete but I learned that does not mean I am incompetent. A big part of being an intern is growing, making minor mistakes, and improving upon them. I am so glad that my team believed in me and allowed me to create initiatives and work on important projects that contributed overall to the work that we are doing at Victory. Sometimes I would get so caught up on progressing, I did not realize that I was already growing and making improvements.
VI: What advice would you give future remote interns?
KL: As the vaccine rolls out at a more rapid rate, a lot of internships are either going back to being in person or having a hybrid internship experience. However, some are staying completely online. If I could give one piece of advice it is to not stop looking: there are internships out there that need you and although being virtual may not be ideal for some, there are a lot of perks, experiences, and opportunities that you can get out of being an intern. I know it can be discouraging, especially if you are an in-person learner or just feel burnt out from Zoom University, but keep trying, keep applying, and it will pay off! Looking for the next Victory opportunity? Apply to be a Fall Congressional Intern!