Lindsey Yang, a student at Burlingame High School in California, shares how the remote externship she did with Facebook through Paragon One helped her use her time productively, even as the pandemic curtailed other passions.
By Lindsey Yang
The pandemic has created a lost year for so many. As a high school sophomore and competitive gymnast, my time outside of home was typically busy, from morning until late evenings. Then suddenly, along with countless other students, I was forced online for school and unable to participate in in-person activities.
Eventually, unstructured time in isolation became a lesson on how to maintain quality school work and create social connections using online platforms. It was not all negative. Technology has innovated tremendously over this year, and my computer skills have improved alongside. I was also able to build connections across the country and world, which would have been unlikely during a typical year of high school.
The remote externship I did with Facebook through Paragon One was an opportunity that allowed me to expand my experiences, work among a diverse cohort and contribute to business innovation.
Here is what I appreciated most about the program:
The pandemic has reduced the number of traditional opportunities and my externship was done in an innovative way -- 100% virtually and with flexible dates. I did research online and it gave me a sense of being part of a larger organization, despite working from home. Meetings were offered at different times to accommodate people in different time zones and company meetings were recorded for later viewing. I valued the accessibility and was able to work around important school deadlines. As a high school student, I also appreciated the training and mentorship I received that made this an educational opportunity for me.
As one of the few high school students in the cohort, I felt quite intimidated initially. Soon I was made to feel welcome and part of the group with training on project expectations and etiquette insights. I received support and feedback that helped me to take my work to a higher level.
My coaches gave me tools to improve my research that I will be able to apply at school and in my future work.
High school students don’t usually get to work with diverse students, but the externship was a great opportunity to build relationships with other young people from different age groups who lived all over the country, represented varying ethnicities and came from different educational backgrounds. It was quite exciting to work alongside individuals from around the country and even internationally. Interacting with people from different backgrounds and working towards a common goal made the experience quite inspiring.
The research I did really interested me and I enjoyed making my final presentation on a topic that I was passionate about. I had the incredible opportunity to present my analysis and recommendations to Facebook staff in a company meeting. Putting together a professional slide deck really taught me to raise my standards for presentations and presenting to the company was the most memorable part of the experience.
Despite the malaise of the last year, it was invigorating to spend my time building skills that will be useful in my future career. I believe there is value to doing a remote externship even beyond the pandemic. Proficiency in online technology and being versatile in non-traditional communication will be increasingly valuable for all workers to have.
Thank you Paragon One and Facebook for the opportunity to grow, learn, and work hard during a vulnerable time for students!