7 Lessons from My Internship at Voa Labs

An inside look at my digital communications internship.

Marc Bölsterli
Marc Bölsterli

An inside look at my digital communications internship.

For the last half year, I did an internship at Voa Labs in the area of Digital Communications. Among my responsibilities was the management of Voa Labs’ social media channels. I created the social media posting schedule and authored several blog posts.

On the client side, I worked on various projects, participated in client meetings, and supported the team wherever possible. Additionally, I was involved in the creation of multiple case studies.

But it was hugely more fascinating than it sounded on paper, so to speak.

During my time at Voa Labs, I bumped into some unexpected surprises, faced different challenges and, most importantly, learned a lot. Here are the top 7 lessons I learned during my time at Voa Labs!

#1 Challenges of remote work

Our team works from five different countries. That’s why we mainly communicate online. Most of my everyday tasks, like writing blog articles or planning social media posts, are easily doable on a remote basis. Working outside a traditional office environment is even inspiring. Who doesn't prefer working in the mountains overlooking the ski slopes or on the beach in Singapore, instead of going to work in rainy Zurich?

Nevertheless, there is certain work that can be done more efficiently if everyone is on site. For example, when the order of Instagram posts needs to be rescheduled: Of course, it's easier if I can simply walk into the office next door and discuss the new order with the team instead of waiting for an answer.

In addition, misunderstandings can also be avoided in this way: Follow-up questions can be asked right away, and direct communication is much more accurate than an email. To get the benefits of direct communication and remote work, I’ve learned the value of short video calls.

#2 The power of shared office spaces: where businesses thrive together

The Voa Labs Zurich studio is located in an office that is shared with other companies. This has many advantages. In particular, the lunch breaks were always very entertaining: In addition to discussions about work, there was always plenty of room for private matters, such as debates about soccer. These became particularly heated when the person with the least soccer expertise did best in a World Cup betting game!

Sharing an office with other companies also creates synergies that can be used professionally. On the one hand, a company became a client of ours, and I could plan and implement a LinkedIn campaign for them, which was very successful. On the other hand, it enables picking someone’s brain about their areas of expertise, for example, on tax topics.

Besides work, there was always time for a round of golf.

#3 Customer engagement: time well spent

Discovering issues or open questions is a common thing when working on innovative solutions. Typical issues that arise are design questions, programming errors, and missing translations. Solving these issues is critical in building high-quality solutions.

Clients usually report such issues by phone. In many cases, the description of the issue and even the implementation of the solution could be handled in a few minutes. However, such phone calls with clients can quickly take 30 minutes. I’ve observed two reasons for this phenomenon. First, clients often have difficulty articulating issues, especially if they are of a technical nature. Second, some clients simply like to talk and discuss what is currently on their table.

Although there was always more than enough work to get done and time pressure was always there, I highly appreciated such client interactions as they were always very interesting. I’ve learned much about their businesses and how they are affected by current affairs and trends, such as rising logistics prices or omnichannel strategies. Additionally, the resulting bond from such conversations creates additional trust.

#4 Clear task definition leads to faster success

Clear communication is the key to success in any professional environment. I was not spared from misunderstood communications during my internship. Especially when writing blog articles, I fell into that trap several times.

Because the expectations of a blog article were insufficiently communicated and/or misunderstood by me, it happened that the article took massively more time to write than expected.

I have learned to first create an outline that can be discussed internally instead of jumping right into writing an article. In many cases, this approach allows us to cut the time to create a blog post in half.

#5 Four eyes do not always see more than two

Before an Instagram post gets published, its caption is checked several times: Are there no spelling errors? Do all the hashtags fit? Are the links correctly set?

Despite multiple reviews, it is not uncommon that a small error in the post gets discovered shortly after it goes live. The consequence? Either the post can be corrected or, as in most cases, requires to be deleted, adjusted, and published again.

What is my learning from this? One could conclude that these errors can be prevented if posts get checked by a second person. Of course, we already did that. This shows that the old adage "four eyes see more than two" is unfortunately not always true.

While it’s probably impossible to completely eradicate all minor mistakes, by setting aside a finished post and looking at it again a day later, errors are more likely to be found.

#6 Instagram growth is not a sprint but a marathon

One of the main tasks during my internship was to manage and grow Voa Labs’ social media channels. When I started, we had 330 followers on Instagram. We set the goal to increase this to 500 by the end of March.

The disillusionment came quickly. Despite regularly posting new content and engaging with our community, the number of followers grew very slowly. By the end of March, we only had 336 followers.

Nevertheless, continuous growth can be seen. In the meantime, Voa Labs already has 360 Instagram followers. My learning here: Growth on Instagram takes time. It is not a sprint but a marathon. If content gets published regularly, channels grow slowly but continuously.

#7 Everything comes to an end

My time as an intern at Voa Labs is coming to an end soon. How do I feel about it? Honestly, I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, I'm looking forward to new challenges in different industries and with new clients. On the other hand, I learned a lot about myself and my professional future, but also about working in a service business. I also had much fun working on various tasks, especially interacting with growth-oriented clients from different industries and collaborating with the entire Voa Labs team.

Interested in becoming my successor? Apply here

Written by
Marc Bölsterli

Marc Bölsterli is a Digital Communications Intern at Voa Labs. He manages all social media channels, writes blog articles and newsletters, and collaborates on client projects as a communication specialist.

Previously, Marc worked in various gastronomy and hospitality businesses, where he gained his passion for teamwork and customer-centricity.

Marc holds a Bachelor of Business Administration with a focus on marketing from the University of St. Gallen (HSG) and is currently enrolled in the Master in Marketing Management also at the University of St. Gallen (HSG).

Search Pivot