My name is Katie Cox, and I am a rising third year student at the University of Virginia. Last summer, I began my first internship for Impl. Project. Tagging along to business development meetings with Justin and Simone, learning the ins and outs of data analysis, and trying out all of the food trucks outside our office building were just a few of the highlights from my internship experience. 

I was excited to return to Impl. Project this year for a second summer, although this one looked quite a bit different because of COVID-19. Luckily, the Impl. Project team has a lot of experience working remotely — since a lot of my coworkers are spread out around the world, the team routinely collaborates virtually. While the transition to interning from home wasn’t too jarring, it certainly took some time to adjust, both physically and emotionally. 

In the mornings, I attended a summer class on Zoom. One of the positive aspects of the pandemic has been my ability to earn credits through my university while still being able to fulfill my responsibilities as an Impl. Project intern, since both were completely online. I finished up my undergraduate studies a year early and began an accelerated master of public policy program at UVA this fall, so I’m really thankful that I was able to both work for Impl. Project and take a class at the same time. 

Having a class that I had to attend really helped me create a consistent schedule and daily routine. The course covered the politics of food, which included examining equitable access to food and systemic inequalities in the United States’ food system. A lot of what I learned emphasized community-led solutions to local food accessibility problems, similar to programs and projects that Impl. Project works on. My intern tasks included creating social media content, updating documents, analyzing data, and writing blog posts like this one! I loved being able to work outside this past summer, and found that the fresh air really helped my productivity.

The Impl. Project team came up with some really creative solutions to work around COVID-19 challenges that I found to be helpful in creating a sense of normalcy and building an internship experience similar to last year’s. One of my favorite ways that we made up for the lack of in-person interactions at the office have been weekly check in calls and an intern “lunch” over video chat, where I had the chance to talk with my co-workers and learn more about them through both their professional and personal interests. This added a more personable dimension to my remote internship experience and gave me the opportunity to get to know the people that I communicated with online every day.

I’m really excited about the work I have completed with Impl. Project’s social media throughout the last two summers. I track down photos, write captions, and plan out content for the organization’s Instagram and Facebook pages. We really try to highlight some of the positive changes our Impl. family has made in light of the pandemic and social restrictions and in the last five years since Impl. Project was founded.  

I think it’s really important that we make efforts to adapt and thrive under new circumstances, and I wanted to draw attention to all of the resilience people show in their daily lives (especially since the COVID-19 outbreak) through our social media. While I’ve been making efforts to maintain a positive outlook and create structure for myself during these times, I still experience stress and uncertainty about what is to come, including not being able to see all of my friends and family, restrictions on public gatherings, and life in general. I remind myself that these are valid feelings, and that creating a new normal is key! A lot of our work at Impl. Project takes place in areas that are affected by war, poverty, and instability. Keeping those areas in mind as I deal with the frustrations of local non-essential businesses being closed is pretty grounding.