This summer, I had the amazing opportunity to be one of six college students working for GP Strategies as a Learning Experience Designer Intern. The six of us were based at the GP Strategies Headquarters in Columbia, Maryland, working with Britney Cole and Ann Rollins. The intern program lasted 12 weeks, and all six of us knew we were in for a great summer!
When I walked into the office for my first day in late May, I had no idea what to expect. In the weeks leading up to the start date, I had been asked countless times what I would be doing at this internship, and my answer was the same every time: “I know my title, Learning Experience Designer Intern, and I know where and when to show up for my first day, and that’s about it.” I knew GP Strategies designed learning and training courses for other companies, but I didn’t really know what role I would play in making that happen. Would I be creating content? Designing a course from scratch? Assisting the people who would be designing the courses? Or would I simply be getting coffee? Well, as it turns out, it was all of the above (although I am happy to report that the only person I had to get coffee for was myself)!
We did a little bit of everything this summer. Our main project was presented to us on the first day of training; we were to take a BlessingWhite course on Giving and Receiving Feedback and turn it into a MOOC. All six of us worked on this project and spent a large part of our summer brainstorming, creating, and editing our content for this course. In addition to that, I worked on a course to educate GP Strategies employees about 508 Compliance and the different types of learners to accommodate. Another group worked on a chatbot that employees could use to get information about the company and answers to FAQs.
We also got the unique opportunity to create a virtual reality tour of GP Strategies’ Headquarters. This project was my personal favorite because, let’s face it, it was amazingly cool! We were able to get access to a 360 camera, which we took around the office and the areas surrounding the office to film footage and take pictures to create a virtual tour. I learned how to use the editing software, CenarioVR, which took my love of video editing to a whole new level! Virtual Reality is such an emerging technology right now—I am so excited that I get to add that skill to my résumé.
I am so thankful to be a part of this amazing internship; it presented us with numerous opportunities. We were told to share our ideas freely—Britney and Ann wanted our feedback and opinions! Our creativity was never stifled, and we were encouraged to think outside the box. In fact, the VR project was a result of one of the interns asking if we could get some experience with filming for VR. One intern had an idea for an internal MOOC and was given the go-ahead to start designing it. I saw an opportunity for an interesting blog post, reached out, and now I’m sitting here writing it. We had the chance to make this internship much more than it was originally intended to be and create our own opportunities, and I think I speak for all my fellow interns when I say we definitely did that! This summer taught me more than I expected, and I am heading into my senior year with a lot of very useful and very cool new skills!