Philadelphia from Home


March 22, 2021

My First (and Virtual) Internship Experience

By Julia Doyle, Arcadia University Student

Since the summer of 2020, the tail end of my sophomore year as an illustration major at Arcadia University, I began to express interest in finding an internship for some solid experience in my desired field. However, with the complications brought upon by Covid-19, the search for an internship position was quickly put on pause before it had hardly begun.

At the end of the fall 2020 semester, I reached out to one of my professors, who was previously my advisor, for advice on the best way to start looking into an internship, especially given the strange circumstances of the world at the time. In return, I received a list of recommended locations in my area that I could start researching, as well as an announcement from Arcadia’s Art Department about a program being offered virtually in the spring through Arcadia Abroad: Intern Philly.

Between the opportunity to make connections close to home, as well as the city of Philadelphia’s reputation in the arts, virtual Intern Philly was the perfect chance for me to branch out into the workforce, despite being stuck at home due to quarantine. With the guidance of Dr. Mark Clark, I was able to lay out my interests so that he had a grasp of my what I was looking to do with my major and the kind of placement that might befit my goals. As a result of Dr. Clark’s efforts, I was offered two great placements, and I chose to work for the marketing team at the financial planning firm, Northwestern Mutual.

Between spring semester classes, I’ve been spending my weeks working on graphic design projects for Northwestern Mutual, creating several simplistic yet attractive template layouts for the company’s social media, as well as for various award opportunities presented to the company’s advisors, and a photo collage of imagery meant to represent Northwestern Mutual’s history and goals for the future in celebration of their Founder’s Day. Although my background has been more highly geared towards illustration, the design opportunities presented to me by Northwestern Mutual thus far have made for incredibly valuable experiences with a variety of widely used digital programs often required for artistic tasks and editing.

On top of my work with Northwestern Mutual, the course component of Intern Philly, run by Dr. Clark, has given me the chance to connect with peers from Arcadia who are also relatively new to the professional work environment. Dr. Clark always gives us the chance to discuss potential workplace issues with one another and share our own experiences during our intern placements thus far in order to finds ways to address potential problems or unfamiliar situations. Our class has gained valuable knowledge on criticism and critique that has taught me and my classmates how to properly question or analyze language and behaviors in the workplace so that we may better prepare ourselves for both casual and serious encounters in a professional environment.

The decision to partake in the Intern Philly program has been an incredibly enlightening experience thus far, and I’m excited to see what the second half of my time with my placement will bring. Despite missing out on the chance to work with others in person due to the quarantine brought upon by Covid-19, my virtual internship has presented me with the chance to learn and grow as an artist in ways that differ from and build on my college classroom experiences. Intern Philly has been a wonderful way for me to branch out into the working world in a new way, while still having access to the guidance of my college professors and mentors, and it is an experience that I’m sure will continue to benefit me as I move forward in life and chase my artistic dreams.