Making Mistakes, Taking Initiative, and Self-Reflecting: The Riipen Intern Managers Offer Advice for Virtual Interns

August 18, 2020

As we wrap up the summer with our first group of virtual internships, we asked our intern managers to give insight for students who are completing their internship or starting one this Fall. Read more for advice to make the most of your current or future placement!

About getting started…

“Keep in mind that while all we want first is ‘a job’, try to strive to find a role and company that fits your values, and put a smile on your face when you wake up in the morning. We spend so much time and energy at work in our life, it is important to try and find what fits you and be comfortable that this definition might evolve over the years.”

Mylene Sage, Senior Manager in Strategic Partnerships, Strategy


“Understand the work that should be done first. When you are working remotely, it’s important that you know how to prioritize your work. Because your manager and teammates cannot see you, the work you produce will be used to measure your success. Make sure you are not distracted and hone in on the tasks most important to your team. 

Set milestones and get early feedback from your manager. Set deadlines to check-in with your manager during the project and ask for early feedback on your work. This helps you keep your project on track and also allows you to set the right expectations with your team for when work will be completed.”

Daniela Pico, Director of External Relations, Marketing


“Be yourself. Always stay true to who you are. Your interests, opinions and the way you work will change and that is ok. In the future, if you are not true to who you are you will likely end up in a position that is not the right fit for you.

Keep an open mind. Opportunity is everywhere, sometimes you need to put yourself out there and take on tasks that you think will bore you and scare you.”

Andrea Russell, Director of People & Culture


About taking initiative...


“Take on as many opportunities as possible, even if they are outside of your comfort zone or not much of interest for you. These years are the years that you get to try everything, learn, and grow from these experiences. A sense of connection and community is very important! Make sure to network with others and have as many coffee chats as possible. It’s incredible how much you can learn from others.”

Verushka Alvarez, Outbound Lead Generation Coordinator, Marketing


“Do video calls whenever possible. While working virtually, it’s more challenging to network. You can’t simply walk up to people or crowd around the coffee machine to strike up a conversation. Instead, make a great impression by using video conferencing whenever possible, and be sure to dress like you are ready to work.”

Daniela Pico, Director of External Relations, Marketing


“If you think something can be improved or you want to get involved in a project that’s not a part of your job, take initiative! Even if you feel like you’re not qualified, do your best to demonstrate the interest and leadership. The key is to make as many mistakes early in your career as you can so you can learn fast and move forward.”

Vitaly Kan, Account Executive, Industry Partnerships


About making mistakes…


“Ask questions! Being an intern in a fast-paced environment requires a lot of patience, learning and listening. I’d advise you to ask as many questions as you can while making mistakes is okay. Don’t be afraid to learn from screwing up - all of us were there, and that’s how we find our paths! Your colleagues are ready to help you grow, use this network to digest new knowledge, and apply it to your dream career.”

Maria Dmitrieva, Industry Client Success Associate, Client Success


“Take advantage of the opportunity to learn, grow, and, perhaps most importantly, make mistakes. Having direct supervision gives you an opportunity to take risks in a safe setting. If you experience failure, take the opportunity to receive feedback. Once you enter the workforce, you won’t always be in an environment where you’re closely supported by a mentor. The ability to hone your decision making and analytical skills as an intern are two areas that will help you to be an effective professional and life-long learner in the future.”

Kelly McGillis, Academic Client Success Associate, Client Success


“It is ok to make mistakes. You do not learn and develop without stumbling a few (or many) times. When you make mistakes, own them. People will not fault you for being honest. Timing is everything. In life, things do not always align with your timeline - sometimes it works out better.”

Andrea Russell, Director of Human Resources


About self-reflection…


“As you complete your internship at Riipen (and this can be applied to anything really), I would suggest taking the time to reflect on your experience. More importantly, how each activity that you have performed can be translated in a well-rounded skill which you can use not only in future interview processes but in future roles especially as you evolve in terms of role or sector of activity. 

Taking the time now, and writing it down in the form of a few bullet points will go a long way in the future to not only give you confidence but the confidence to others that you are the best even if on paper you do not have “direct” experience. “

Mylene Sage, Senior Manager in Strategic Partnerships, Strategy


“Take the time every now and then to reflect on your past experiences and your future goals. Writing this down somewhere will help you keep track of your progress so far.

And most importantly, let your passion and creativity shine! Be excited about the projects you are working on and follow what ignites your passion.”

Verushka Alvarez, Outbound Lead Generation Coordinator, Marketing


About the future of work…


“The future of work is constantly changing. Things from technological changes to worldwide pandemics dictate what kind of jobs are needed. Don’t take the hard and soft skills you gained during your internship at face value. You’re not just an intern who worked in the marketing or finance department; you’re someone who developed skills in communication, design thinking, adaptability, etc. These are skills that will help you succeed no matter where your career takes you.”

Jan Natividad, Growth Marketing Manager, Marketing


“Certain jobs that once were may not come back in the same iteration as before, if at all. Navigating the new normal is going to be challenging to say the least, but my guidance is the same for anyone looking for a place to start; find the intersection of what you love, what the world needs, and what you can get paid to do. Learn and experience everything in that intersection you can, and ask yourself if that’s the course you want to set. Most importantly don’t be afraid to start again from scratch.”

Mark Cheong, Team Lead Vancouver, Industry Partnerships 



Going Forward

As a student, your priority is to learn in all capacities. Going forward, use this advice not only in your placements but in future careers. If you’re also a Fall co-op student, Riipen is hiring interns for the upcoming Fall semester. To learn more about possibly working with our wonderful intern managers, click here to learn more and apply. 




Written by: Yogmaya Singh