JYM offers first virtual internship

Jocelyn Nitta (JYM 2021-22), a biology major with a German minor at Wayne State University, was signed up for JYM 2020-21 when the full-year program was canceled due to the pandemic.

Jocelyn was then given the unique opportunity to participate in JYM's first Virtual Internship through Cultural Vistas in the fall semester 2020-21! This was unchartered territory for both Jocelyn and her internship director, the JYM Program Director Professor Lisa Hock. JYM's partnership with Cultural Vistas secured the internship with host company Global Innovation Gathering (GIG) where Jocelyn worked on a project called Careable, a perfect project for a student aspiring to medical school.

Having deferred her JYM program participation, Jocelyn finally arrived in Munich this fall along with 19 other JYM students. She came in early September to participate in the Language prep course offered at the LMU for guest and exchange students. We have asked her some questions about her internship experience and how the program is going so far!

In the fall of 2020, you found yourself faced with the option of doing a virtual internship through JYM instead of coming abroad as hoped. What was the duration of the internship and what gave you the courage to embark on such new territory?

Jocelyn: The internship lasted for the fall semester, from September through December 2020. I decided to undertake this virtual international internship because it was unlike anything that I have ever done. I thought that it would be a great opportunity to not only learn more about non-profits but to also understand the work environment of another country. I am passionate about helping others and medicine and this internship was an opportunity to learn more about both.

Jocelyn's presentationView internship portfolio

In a nutshell, what are some of the disadvantages and advantages of doing a virtual internship? Were you able to make connections and interact with your co-workers?

JYM students, Maddie Tully and Jocelyn Nitta, sporting Dirndls for Bavarian dance lessons during orientation.

The challenges with doing a virtual internship are that you are not in-person, and thus forming connections outside of the workplace and within is more difficult. Additionally, personally, with my virtual internship, the company was based in Berlin, which is six hours ahead of Michigan time. This time difference made it difficult to meet because the meetings in my time zone were between 5 to 6 a.m. or very late at night in their time zone.

The positive side was that I was able to connect with an international non-profit organization while still in the comfort of my own home. I was also able to work, go to school, and do the internship, which I think is unique because normally a student either works or does an internship due to time commitments.

I was able to connect with my co-workers even in a virtual setting. There would be a question of the day at the beginning of every meeting and then we would discuss how our weekend or day has been going. This seemingly small question allowed everyone to connect, and it helped me feel more comfortable within the organization. We also did a little holiday party and were able to do online group games, which also enabled me to get to know my co-workers.

Jocelyn (f.) is pictured here with her cohort in the Alps near Berchtesgaden. The group stayed in a Berghütte overnight and got up at 3 a.m. for a sunrise hike.

You have now finally been able to come abroad for your junior year (now your senior year) and arrived in Sept. 2021! How has it been finally being on the ground in Munich?

It has been greater than I could have ever expected! I love the city and everyone here is so very nice! The locals see that you are trying to speak German and are always so patient with you and helpful. I love the people that I have met here and the

Jocelyn and some of her cohort in front of the Feldherrnhalle on their way to a ballet at the Munich opera house.

people in our program. I love how much history Munich has and it is surreal to finally be here and to experience the things that I have only read in a book or seen in films. Although we are still in the pandemic and tons of things are closed, I have never felt more accepted into a group and our cohort feels like a family. I am so excited about what the rest of the year holds and can't wait to make more memories with these people.

Do you have internship plans for this academic year abroad as well?

Yes, I am looking into doing one in the second semester. This first semester I am trying to focus on my German classes and my general education classes. Then in the second semester, try to take some science classes at LMU (possibly in German!) with an internship somewhere in Munich.

JYMers who took part in Frau Barbara Reis's (l.) tour of advent and Christmas traditions in Bavaria. Here Maddie (m.) and Jocelyn (r.) are enjoying homemade Lebkuchen in front of the Bayerische Hof.

You have already experienced so much. We would love to check in with you again at the completion of your year in July if that would be okay. What goals have you set for yourself?

Yes, of course! Some of my goals for the year are:

  • To meet more locals
  • Explore the city more (to get to know all the best "spots")
  • Take an LMU course, fully in German
  • To push myself to be at a high B1/low B2 language level
  • To be able to comfortably have a conversation with strangers fully in German

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