Intern Blog

How to Build Team Relationships and Communicate Through a Lens:

Mar 17, 2021

The only thing more intimidating than starting your first busy season internship is starting your internship completely virtual. Prior to the start of my internship with Cohen, I was nervous to see how learning and communicating with my team would work. For every person affected by COVID-19, there was no rule book given how to navigate a job now fully online. This was a new experience for everyone. While I was intimidated at the start, I quickly learned there was no reason to feel isolated or apprehensive in my role at Cohen virtually. The pandemic circumstances are extreme; however, I learned lifelong communication and relationship-building skills to carry forward and I would love to share my experience with you:

1. Ask Questions
Asking questions is undoubtably the most important thing to do as an intern. Beginning an internship, it is okay to feel lost. You aren’t expected to know everything. I promise you the way you feel at the start of the internship will completely transform as you ask and absorb everything throughout the process. My best advice for asking questions is to compile a list throughout your day and wait until you are finished with your work to ask. Exhaust all your options through utilizing resources, like the prior year binders.  You will feel accomplished answering your own questions before reaching out for help.  Then, hop on a phone call and share your screen to visually understand the questions you have left to answer. Asking questions this way will better utilize your time and your team members above you.
2. Be Authentic
It can be intimidating at the start of any new position to put yourself out there, especially in a virtual setting. There is something unnatural about staring at a screen to meet new team members. Communicating virtually challenged me even more to show who I am. The best thing about working at Cohen is the people. Don’t be nervous to have your voice heard, because everyone wants to listen. Cohen stands on the pillars of creating a kind, inclusive, and supportive environment. Those are the core seeds needed to thrive as an individual in any work setting.
3. Be Confident in Yourself
Confidence doesn’t derive from knowing everything, it stems from believing in your capabilities. Have confidence in asking your questions and applying what you’ve learned forward. Don’t worry about what there is to learn, because you’ll never stop learning, just ask your seniors and managers. It’s okay to make mistakes or reach out for help, that gives you an opportunity to grow. But don’t let your lack of knowledge keep you from being confident in your work and yourself. We all have something to contribute, voice yours with pride.
4. Have Fun
Having fun virtually can be a challenge. There are no office lunches or happy hours to attend, making it difficult to form relationships outside of work-related topics. Throughout my time at Cohen, I’ve learned the importance of banter; asking how someone’s weekend was, if they watched the game last Thursday, or what podcasts they like to listen to. You begin to form connections and communicating with your team will feel more at ease. Encourage yourself to attend virtual events even if you feel nervous.  I promise you, everyone is so nice and they look forward to meeting new faces. Eventually, you’ll find yourself cracking jokes on jabber and having extended phone calls about unrelated topics to your job itself. When I had the opportunity to visit the office in Chicago, I was able to see firsthand how close the team really is. Cohen does an incredible job hiring their team. Take the opportunity to get to really know them and you’ll understand why Cohen calls itself a family.