Hello there, this is Helene. This summer, I had a three-month internship at Life Size. If you’ve ever wondered what life is like at Europe’s leading cleantech communications agency, then I’m here to tell you. Let’s look back at my time at Life Size and share some of my experiences and learnings with you.
Originally, my internship was due to start in May. It was planned that I would spend one month working in Life Size’s Berlin office, before travelling to the UK and working in the company’s London office for the remaining two months. But then COVID-19 happened, and it became clear that I wouldn’t be able to travel to either of the Life Size offices. Still, I was lucky, as despite the unprecedented situation my internship wasn’t cancelled. Instead, we tried to figure out a way to make it work – which we did. As everyone at Life Size was – and still is – working from home, we decided to make it a remote internship. This way, I was able to work from Leipzig close to my friends and family. Plus, as I was consuming so much UK media and most of our calls were in English, it still felt like being on an internship abroad.
When lockdown started and all events were cancelled I began to hate video calls. They made me feel tired and I longed to see and work with people in real life. So, I must admit that I wasn’t thrilled by the thought of working completely remotely for three months. However, I quickly realised that it made a big difference to plan how to work remotely. Doing this means that you don’t miss anything that previously happened in-person, plus you can’t compare your digital experiences to real-life situations. You just need to accept that, for now, everything is digital. This was the case for me at least, and looking back I realise that I really enjoyed working from home. I actually had less trouble with my work-life balance compared to studying for my Masters. When I went offline, this meant that I was free and didn’t have to do anything else for work until I was online again.
When I tell people about my internship, they always ask if it was strange for me to never get to meet my colleagues in person. Of course it was different, but it wasn’t bad. From my very first day I had Zoom calls with every team member and got to know them personally. Each week we had regular team meetings and workflow check-ins. But we didn’t just have work-related meetings. Once, we had a digital breakfast, while another evening we had digital drinks with a quiz. Life Size also has a purely social Slack channel where team members share pictures and music they like, which helped me get to know everyone’s personalities and share my own.
Team spirit and company culture
Most essential to making remote work not only possible but also enjoyable is team spirit. Motivation and optimism can be contagious in the best way. It really helped me that everyone on the team made me feel welcome, wanted and part of the team. I believe this feeling is a result of Life Size’s successful company culture. The company has a clear vision and mission that everyone on the team shares. Nobody at Life Size works just for their salary. I really got the feeling that all my colleagues want their work to have a positive impact on the world. This is reflected in the whole company culture. Internal processes are regularly reviewed, discussed and improved, while I was constantly pushed to speak out and offer my opinion. Usually I fear making mistakes, but at Life Size I was encouraged to let this go. Feedback on my work was always constructive and aimed at helping rather than criticising me.
The constructive advice I received was not only content-related. Every two weeks I had 1-2-1 calls with different colleagues. During these personal meetings we discussed my training plan, checked what I had done so far and what I still wanted to do. Additionally, I had the chance to address personal topics. I received coaching that has helped me to solve several challenges I’ve faced in my career so far. For example, we spent time training my presentation skills out of my home office. I also received several opportunities to translate theory into practice and apply what I had learned by participating in different calls with clients. In fact, I even got the chance to lead my own client calls. I never thought that such responsibility would be given to me as an intern, something I am very grateful for.
What I learned to love about cleantech
I have to admit that when I started my internship I was quite overwhelmed by the complexity of the technologies of Life Size’s clients. The more I read and looked up words I didn’t understand, the more foreign words seemed to pop up! But, I made progress every day. What first seemed like a riddle is now a fascination. By participating in client calls, I had the chance to meet and talk to actual cleantech companies. I still wouldn’t claim to really understand all the technologies in-depth, but what I do understand and love about cleantech is the vision that all these technologies have in common. Fighting the climate crisis, preserving the environment – these clear visions are core to everything. This makes things a lot easier for me because this way I know that I’m working for something that’s worth it.
Working in something that is in line with your values makes work so much more enjoyable. At Life Size, I was able to follow my intuition and never had to worry about stepping into faux pas, because there is no hierarchy to offend. Everyone is working towards the same goals together and respectfully looking out for each other’s wellbeing. This is something I really enjoyed and contributed towards making my remote internship a wonderful experience.