Around the (home) office with KnowBe4 PR intern Samantha Scribano

PRWeek intern Julia Francis speaks with her fellow University of Florida student about interning during the lockdown.

Sam and her new kitten, Rio, in her home office.
Sam and her new kitten, Rio, in her home office.

What is KnowBe4? What do you do there?
KnowBe4 is a cybersecurity company in Clearwater, Florida, that provides security awareness training and simulated phishing tests. It actually just reached unicorn status in 2019 because it reached a $1 billion valuation as a privately held startup company. 

As the PR intern, I have been able to get involved in a lot of different tasks, including copy editing of articles and blog posts, conducting Zoom interviews for award submissions and attending all of the PR team meetings throughout the day. It’s an international company, so I have had the chance to meet people from all around the world, on Zoom, of course, so that has been really cool.

Is this your first summer internship? 
This is my third summer internship. Surprisingly, this one has easily been the most engaging, despite the last two being in-person. KnowBe4 has done a really great job of making the internship inclusive and fun, even from home. For example, on National Pudding Day (June 26), all 21 interns [competed in] a pudding-making competition. We are going to Zoom later to vote on our results.

When did you know it was going to be virtual? Were you ever afraid of it being canceled entirely?
I found out it was going to be virtual in May. Of course, they didn’t want to move it online unless they had to, so they were waiting until the last minute to make a decision about keeping it entirely remote. They made it clear that there was going to be an internship regardless, so I was never afraid of it being canceled.

What are the challenges of working alongside a team that you haven’t met in person?
Honestly, I haven’t run into many challenges. We all keep up with our emails and are really active on Google Hangouts. My questions are always answered quickly, and if I am still confused, I can easily hop on a Zoom meeting to clarify anything. 

Although, my coworkers often talk about the office culture and how much they enjoy spending time together, so not being a part of that has been a bit of a letdown. Hopefully, it will be something I can experience once everything clears up.

Who do you live with? Any others working from home?
I am currently living with my entire family in a house of five. Usually, my siblings and I are away at college, but we are now all living under one roof. It is definitely not smooth at times.

The Scribanos and a few of their pets.

My brother is also working from home, so he has made the two of us a window-view office in the living room, right next to our “workout station.” We have five pets that keep things interesting, as well.

I know your father is a veterinarian. How does that work?  
My dad actually owns two animal hospitals, so we always have animals cycling in and out of our house. Over the years, hundreds of animals have been left at the hospitals and taken refuge in our home, including raccoons, iguanas and flying squirrels. We just rescued a kitten a couple of months ago. Whenever I have a meeting, I need to go into a separate room and shut the door, as the kitten will run up the back of my chair and sit on my shoulder in the middle of video conferences. 

My dad’s 35-year-old parrot never ceases to scream whenever she wants anything, or nothing at all, so whenever I am on Zoom and not speaking, I am hovering over my mute button. I think I have finally gotten the hang of it.

Larita, the vivacious family parrot.

Also, Florida is known for its summer storms, and my family lives right on the coast, so whenever one hits, generally right in the middle of my workday, we suit up our two dogs in their "storm jackets.” Both of them are absolutely terrified, and my 65-pound rescue refuses to leave my lap for the duration of the storm. 

Is this internship what you expected?
Despite all of the uncertainty, it has exceeded my expectations. I have already learned so much and been involved with a lot of meaningful projects. They leave lots of room for personal growth, which was really important to me in my search process.

Is KnowBe4 a company you could see yourself working for in the future?
Yes, definitely. KnowBe4 invests a ton of time and resources into all of the interns to ensure that we are ideal full-time hires. The company is currently in a state of “hyper-growth” and is continually looking to expand. I have a dream to work in Germany someday, and my superiors have been really supportive and encouraging of my goal to work in their Berlin office at some point in the future.

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