Virus changed, didn't nix FM Global internships

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With the COVID-19 pandemic canceling students’ internships, FM Global developed a program to give 50 students an internship through remote, paid career development opportunities.

The Johnston-based mutual insurance company has hired the interns and co-ops to work remotely over the summer, according to Ewa Boardman, FM Global’s manager of university relations. Interns are paid the same as those in corporate entry-level positions, according to Boardman, although she did not disclose amounts.

Lauren Poirier, a media relations intern and University Rhode Island student majoring in public relations, explained she applied for the internship prior to the pandemic because she knew other students who had enjoyed it. However, she did not expect it to become virtual at the time, but she took the change in stride.

“I think this experience has been just as fulfilling as being in-person,” Poirier said. “In some ways having a remote internship is better preparation for a career. It gives you a lot of skills that you couldn’t get in person and it’s possible that remote working is the future so those of us working remotely are not getting.”

Poirier worked in the corporate newsroom and marketing during her internship. She previously interned with the University of Rhode Island’s marketing and communications department, and said her FM Global internship has given her a broad perspective on different parts of public relations.

“It’s given me a glimpse in a lot of different facets in public relations,” Poirier said. “I learned about working with the media, working internally to make sure that the company’s website and the company’s systems are up to date. I feel that learning all of these things will really help me in my career.”

Boardman said that adjusting internships so they can be done remotely was challenging at times, but the company found meetings over Microsoft Teams and frequent communication with interns could help them feel connected. FM Global also tried to level the playing field for interns of all backgrounds. For example, FM Global provided interns with laptops with pre-installed software required for their internship, allowing them to not need to worry about the financial strain of getting equipment for their internship.

Boardman added that FM Global offered multiple internship programs, making the internship class very diverse.

“We have had internships and co-ops for the past 30 plus years,” Boardman said. What makes our internship and co-op programs unique is that there are lots of different options so we can work with a variety of different backgrounds and degrees. Marketing, legal, finance, technology, engineering PR….Almost every department hires interns.”

Since COVID-19 cancelled many internship programs, those interning at FM Global are thankful for their experience.

“I’m really grateful that I have the opportunity to do this remotely,” Grant Sterman, an applied mathematics major at Brown University working as an accounts receivable intern, said. “A lot of my friends had internships cancelled, but this internship has made me feel part of the experience even though I am virtual.”

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