My Virtual Intern Experience at the AT&T Summer Learning Academy

CPE college student, Jocelyn Lewis-Johnson, was awarded a $4500 CPE internship stipend over the summer. The stipend is offered to a small group of college students who secure low or unpaid internships to cover living, travel, and school expenses while interning. We believe that internships and other research and job shadowing opportunities help students build skills and connections needed for their career after college. Read about Jocelyn’s summer internship experience below.

For this summer, I interned at the AT&T Summer Learning Academy from June 2020 to July 2020. The AT&T Summer Learning Academy is a free self-paced online learning externship program operated by AT&T University. The externship contained 80 hours of virtual speaker presentations and courses focused on a variety of business and technical strategies. In addition, some courses revolved around career decorum and personal development. Furthermore, the externship gives insight into AT&T’s development of technological advancement and business communication.

In my prior work experiences, I interned with non-profits and government institutions to gain experience in social work. However, this summer, I wanted to intern at a company that would expose me to corporate America. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I was not able to participate in an in-person internship experience. However, CPE’s contribution made a significant difference. Because the summer externship was virtual, I wanted to renovate my home area into an office to emulate the real thing. By using my CPE stipend, I bought a printer and printing supplies, a monitor, highlighters, pens, and sticky notes. In addition, I used the stipend to help pay for internet services. Because of CPE’s contribution, my experience was enjoyable, informative, and fun.

Although I was hoping for an in-person experience, the virtual internship had various interactive activities that made the experience more efficient and livelier. The speaker presentations were the most informative and favorable part of the experience. The speakers were successful businesspeople that gave helpful and insightful advice on their topics. My favorite speaker was the chief executive officer of AT&T Business, Anne Chow. Her presentation on Leadership Resilience was motivating because of her career journey. She started as an engineer, then took on leadership roles in sales operations and strategic planning. She is the first woman of color to hold this position in AT&T’s history. As a woman of color, it is very inspirational to see minority female leaders in a male-dominated position. Furthermore, AT&T’s representation of diversity in race, gender, and background emphasized the importance of diversity inclusion within the business culture.

During the externship, my favorite topics were Technical Organization, Machine Learning, Business Operations, Corporate Purpose, and Artificial Intelligence. Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence courses increased my knowledge of technological development. Initially, I did not think that I would be interested in these topics because I am not a tech-savvy person. However, the topic focused more on its development relative to human communication rather than technical. For me, it was fascinating to learn how artificial intelligence uses the human mind to inform human intelligence in machinery, which uses machine learning. In terms of the Business Operations and Technical Organization modules. I was intrigued by the topics because it revolved around my Business Economics major. The modules offered me insight into the strategies and processes within the Business Operations and Technical Organization. My knowledge of understanding systems, processes of allocating inputs, and assets to maximize revenue has enhanced.

The Corporate Purpose course highlighted the ethical and moral component of AT&T. It outlined the moral expectations that companies should inhabit within the work environment. AT&T’s core values were aspirational because it redefines thinking within the workplace. AT&T’s core values are: live true, think big, pursue excellence, inspire imagination, be there, stand for equality, embrace freedom, and make difference. I find that these values are important to have not just at work, but in life. During this internship, I learned how to be a visionary and an advocate for innovation.

Overall, the virtual summer externship was a very fulfilling and educational experience that has developed my professional and personal growth.