Internship Retrospective: Kersten Kruse

Aug 17, 2020

College can be a confusing, hectic time for many students – especially during COVID-19. As young adults adapt to online learning and social distancing in labs, pursuing an internship can seem impossible. I watched many of my peers lose opportunities as the economic impacts of the virus prompted businesses to shut their doors. KLA, however, honored my internship and gave me a memorable experience from home.

My name is Kersten and I’m an intern who works with our corporate communications team here at KLA. I knew from the beginning of my internship that KLA was a company that values its employees. How? For starters, there was the care package KLA sent to my house. All the interns received a t-shirt, mug, water bottle and other goodies. I remembered feeling so cared for and empowered. Then, our CEO, Rick Wallace, personally welcomed me via LinkedIn when I updated my role.

As grateful as I was to have an internship, working from home presented a new set of challenges. My excitement before my first day was met equally with fear. When KLA announced that their internship program would be remote due to COVID-19, my first questions were “how will I form relationships with my team?” and more importantly, “how will I make an impact from a distance?” As an incoming senior in college, this was my last internship before graduating – I needed the experience to be as hands-on as possible.

The truth is, I’ve accomplished more than I would have in a face-to-face setting. My team hosts daily coffee chats where I’m able to network with employees from across the globe, which would not be possible if I were working at the Ann Arbor campus. The University Relations team also arranges for the interns to network through online happy hour events and lunches, giving me another chance to talk with young professionals from diverse disciplines, countries and backgrounds. Through these networking opportunities, I became comfortable asking for and completing projects with my team. I’ve been able to regularly communicate with my manager, request assignments and provide live updates on tasks for which I’m responsible. I’m more than an intern – I’m a member of the team.

Out of all the exciting assignments I’ve worked on, presenting my final project was my favorite. I was able to prove my independence by conducting research from home, and provided results that will shape KLA’s communication strategy, even after I leave. My 45 minute presentation was met with excitement by my team, who was incredibly supportive of my work and validated my conclusions. They liked my ideas so much, they offered me a full-time position shortly after I presented. Having a job offer before returning to campus, in the midst of a global pandemic, is one of the best things to ever happen to me.

I’m grateful I chose to spend my summer working with KLA. With every career opportunity, I’m always curious about the complexity and importance of the assignments I will be given. As a KLA intern, the limits don’t exist for work I can touch or the effect I can have on the corporation. Being the new kid on the block can be scary, especially when it’s the steppingstone towards your dream job. But being the new kid at KLA was one of the best experiences I’ll have as a college student, even if it was from my bedroom. I can’t wait to return full-time once I graduate!

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