Emily Winston|Sep 18, 2020

Learn how to take advantage of opportunities, build strong relationships, and exhibit impact during your remote internship.

For many college students, internships give them a valuable learning experience that their academic classes just cannot. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, companies are still interested in giving rising talent the opportunity to expand their skillsets, despite being faced with the obvious limits and challenges. One of the most important parts about being an intern is building those relationships with others in the office and going that extra mile in order to stand out. Here are some tips on how to make the most of your virtual internship:

1. Find Time to Connect with Fellow Employees

During your remote internship, asking questions and seeking task opportunities can be tricky when having to reach out via email, phone, or video call. You might not know what they even look like yet, which can be even more daunting. It’s important to encourage yourself to be extra social and really focus on your communication strategies when working this way. Without those every day, face-to-face interactions in the office, it’s even more important to perhaps request a “coffee talk” for 15-30 minutes to get to know others and for others to get to know you too. This is a great supplement to feel more comfortable and familiarize yourself with professionals that are on the same career path as you, even if it’s over casual conversations.

It’s also crucial to ask superiors or managers how they would prefer to be reached by you throughout the day. If they have a preference for face-to-face chats, schedule video calls during the course of your internship to check in. If they show more of a liking to quick emails, send them progress updates and recaps of what you have been working on. You can never go wrong with overcommunicating!

2. Ask for Feedback and Help

Remember: an internship is a learning experience. Your superiors and managers absolutely do not expect you to already know everything on your first day. When turning in assignments and completing tasks, encourage your managers to provide you with detailed feedback and responses. It shows that you are not only interested in growing throughout your time with the company, but it displays your interest in improvement for the next time around. Be mindful that your superiors are busy too and they might not be able to answer your questions right away, but don’t let that discourage you from asking away.

3. Create Your Own Professional Environment

Even though you’re not in a traditional office setting, it’s still important to dress professionally to help you stay motivated and get into the right mindset for the rest of the day. Setting up a workplace in your home that can double as an “office” will encourage you to step into that mentality every morning. It’s okay to switch it up sometimes if you need a change of scenery or are feeling unproductive; move from your desk to the kitchen table for an hour or two. Wearing pajamas and sitting in bed are not recommended.

Being mindful of your surroundings is also a way to show your managers that you are professional and up for the job. You never know when your boss is going to video call you, so it’s necessary that there is nothing inappropriate within your camera view and there is limited background noise. A blank wall and a closed door are your best bets when it comes to minimizing distractions.

4. Manage Your Time and Set Goals

Everyone has their own ways in which they like to stay organized and make their daily to-do lists. Since you’re working from home and don’t have someone checking in on your tasks every few minutes, it’s important to keep track of dates, times, and assignments starting at the beginning of your shift. Compose a chronological list of everything your bosses expect you to do throughout the day, so that you know what and when something is due. Go down the list when completing things and let your managers know if you finish early, since you might have some spare time for additional projects.

Daily goals and long-term goals can also be meaningful to meet deadlines, use your time wisely, and gain the most experience from it all. Discuss goals and expectations with your supervisors before the internship starts so that you are confidently on the right track throughout your time with the company. Refer back to your everyday achievements when updating your resume and LinkedIn profile.

5. And Go Easy on Yourself!

At the end of the day, transitioning to a virtual workplace from an in-office environment is a big adjustment and your superiors will understand that. They too had to make the transition and acknowledge that it takes some getting used to. As already mentioned, they don’t expect you to be a genius when you log in on your first day. Take your time and if you are still having difficulties adjusting, feel free to reach out to a manager, HR professional, or someone on your career development team. Everyone is there to help you make the most out of your learning experience!

Ultimately, acing a remote internship should be approached in a similar way to acing a regular internship. Your main motivations should remain as building connections and relationships through networking, standing out by being proactive, and staying focused and organized to present yourself to your bosses in the best light. It’s also important that as an employer you provide the right environment for interns to succeed – some tips to help with that can be found here.


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