Navigating a Virtual Internship

Updated: Mar 29

With summer quickly approaching, the Landscape Architecture Students and Professionals in RI are wondering how internships (remote or otherwise) will work during the COVID pandemic this summer. We asked a few students from the University of Rhode Island to share their experiences last summer to help the RIASLA members continue to think about how to support this important step on their career path. If you have had experience or have any suggestions to add leave a comment below!

Sarah McGraw

URI Landscape Architecture Senior

Internship: East Coast Greenway / I worked from Upstate New York on a section of the greenway for Freeport, Maine.


Type of internship: Remote, I worked with two other students.


Connection: I connected weekly with the other two students and with our professor who managed the internship. We met with the advisor of East Coast Greenway (ECG) for the New England Area along with the Town Engineer of Freeport about twice a month.


Adjustment time: Since we were coming off a remote spring semester adjusting to online internship was rather easy.


Challenges: Some challenges I faced was not being able to see the site in person. Being so far away along with being in a pandemic I was not able to visit the site. This gave me the opportunity to strengthen my skills in GIS mapping, enhance my communication skills through contacting the town to gain information of the site, and learning to work on one project with multiple people while not being able to physically be together.


Tools: We used Zoom when communicating with the ECG and Freeport town. Zoom was used more professionally. For weekly check-ins we used Google Meet, this seems to be a more relaxed platform.

Miranda Hulme

URI Landscape Architecture Senior


Internship Company/Location: Andover

Landscape Design and Construction LLC. Andover, MA


What type of internship did you have? I had an in person internship. It was with a design/build firm where I mostly worked in the field with the fine gardening team. Occasionally, I would work with the construction team.


How often did you connect with your manager and how was it done? Daily, through text or a phone call. They would always visit the sites being worked on at least once a day.


How long did it take before you felt integrated? My experience was great, I felt a part of the team the moment I started! I had previously worked for a construction company so I had a little knowledge under my belt. The ALDC team was extremely supportive and wanted to make sure I was learning as much as I possibly could. I was able to strengthen my plant knowledge tremendously. I was also able to learn more in depth about the business side of a design/build company. I had the opportunity to shadow a day in the office of the landscape architects and designers learning tips and tricks when it comes to computer programs and hand drafting.


What were some of the biggest challenges you overcame? One of the challenges I faced was having lack of perennial plant knowledge. It was hard to identify some of the plants in the field. I overcame this by asking questions when I did not know what a particular plant was and having my coworkers constantly quizzing me.


What type of precautions were used? To get to the site we all took separate transportation, socially distanced while working with each other, wearing masks, eating lunch separate from each other and not sharing tools throughout the work day. I always carried hand sanitizer on me as another safety precaution.

Lindsey Corse

URI Landscape Architecture Senior


Internship (1): Ben Blue's Backyard Creations

What type of internship did you have? I had a virtual internship I started in the summer of 2020 that has carried over to the present. I draft footing layouts and construction documents for residential decks. Depending on the project, I use Vectorworks, AutoCAD, SketchUp, and Photoshop.


How often did you connect with your manager and how was it done? My contact with my employer was almost entirely online. I communicate throughout the week with my employers via email and sometimes by text or phone call. I can work entirely remotely with flexible hours.


How long did it take before you felt integrated? I had very little prior decking knowledge, but I was trained by another URI student for the first few months which helped me become more comfortable. My employers have been very patient and encouraging during my learning process.


What were some of the biggest challenges you overcame? Maintaining a balance between work and school can be difficult when the company is especially busy. Time management has been difficult but thankfully I make my own hours.


What type of tools did you use to collaborate and how were they used? We use Microsoft Outlook as our email server. We submit drawings back and forth and communicate by drawing our thoughts and creating diagrams. Visual and verbal communication tools have been helpful.

Internship (2): Cumberland Rhode Island Planning Department

What type of internship did you have? I had a virtual internship that I started in February 2021. I work in the planning office as a consultant.

How often did you connect with your manager and how was it done? My contact with my employer is not daily, but we schedule quick check-ins and meetings throughout the week. We meet with Google Meet or Zoom. Sometimes we communicate over the phone as well.

How long did it take before you felt integrated? I still feel that I am adjusting in this position because it is so new, but the learning curve has not been too difficult.

What were some of the biggest challenges you overcame? Maintaining a balance between work and school can be difficult. Finding time in general is difficult, but thankfully there is always work for me to do and things to learn.

What type of tools did you use to collaborate and how were they used? We collaborate by providing comments, notes, and drawings on work and revising them accordingly. I work with Photoshop, AutoCAD, and InDesign mostly for this position.




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