Student Internship on Digitalization


COVID-19 has had significant impact on companies and their employees. This research internship will allow students to reflect on the potential good as well as bad sides of this change under the guidance of a business mentor who will supervise the project and introduce students to insider views in the field. What will possibly change in expectations of employees or customers towards a company? How can you manage talent or your own career in a predominantly virtual world? How is innovation done? Or how can processes be improved in a distributed setup?

The research will be done in teams. Each team will present its findings in the guise of a final paper/article that can be published for peer review.

Upon completion of the internship, students will receive an Internship Certificate from the Columbia University center for Technology Management.


  • Changed expectations from employees
  • Talent Management
  • Changed expectations from customers
  • Innovation
  • Process improvements in a virtual world

Requirements for applicants

  • Applicants to this internship program must be registered students of Columbia University
  • If an undergraduate student at Columbia University, applicants must be in the second half of their studies
  • Each team will consist of one student from technical studies and the other student from business studies
  • Prior work experience is preferred
  • Students must be curious and must think outside the box

To apply, please visit the Paris Global Center. The deadline to apply is June 22, 2020.



The program will run 5 weeks in 6 sessions, as detailed below. Please click to expand:

Schedule for Session 1:

  • Review a presentation of the COVID-19 response poll by the Hackett Group
  • Kick-off the first topic of the internship program
  • Students are asked to provide predictions of 3 - 5 positive impacts arising from the new normal, as well as predictions of 3 - 5 negative impacts, in a positioning paper until the next session.

Schedule for Sessions 2 - 6:

  • Presentations by the two teams of their hypotheses and the first evaluation of all hypotheses into three categories (highly likely, likely, not likely)
  • Each subsequent weekly session will delve into new topics

Detailed Content Topics

Additional information about the content topics are described below. Please click to expand:

Topic 1: Changed expectations from employees

Employees worked now during the quarantine at home. Virtual collaboration became key.


  • How is quarantine changing the expectations of people of their work environment in respect to technology (collaboration, access, systems integration…)?
  • How long can this remote workforce continue to function remote? Forever? Will people start to miss the ‘water cooler’ discussions for informal talks? How important is the exchange of informal information? What happens to a company culture in a virtual world? Do people still feel loyal to a company?


Topic 2: Talent Management

People got hired now during quarantine without any personal contact. Virtual interviews, virtual first days, virtually meeting their boss and colleagues, …

Questions - how will talent management be changed:

  • How do you know who your overperformers versus underperformers are in a virtual world?
  • How can one stand out in a virtual world (career progression in a virtual world)?


Topic 3: Changed expectations from customers

Customers were quarantined as well. Nevertheless business continued.


  • How do customers want to be interacted with, cared for, serviced?
  • What are their expectations towards people, process and technology?


Topic 4: Innovation

Over the past years, start-ups flourished and became an important innovation machine for business alongside the internal innovation initiatives.


  • With a changed financial and labor market, how could the start-up scene change? What will that mean to innovation?
  • How can innovation happen in a virtual work environment where employees are distributed and remote?


Topic 5: Process improvements in a virtual world

Change is a necessary continuum to increase efficiency in a company. People currently working from home, rely on working systems and existing processes.


  • How can process improvements happen in a virtual world where employees are distributed?
  • How are initiatives triggered, defined and executed in a virtual world?

Instructor:  Ursula Soritsch-Renier

Ursula Soritsch-Renier

Ursula Soritsch-Renier is Group CIO and Digital Leader at Nokia. She is the former Group CIO and Group Digital Leader of Sulzer, a Swiss global manufacturing company. At Sulzer, Ursula focused on leading cross-divisional and cross-functional business teams towards Sulzer’s digital transformation, increasing revenue through value-added services. In addition, she established one global Sulzer IT out of previously decentralized Divisional IT to provide agility and speed to adapt business constantly to market situations.

Learn more about the instructor.