Much has changed in the face of COVID-19, and many internships are currently transitioning to a remote format. A virtual internship can still offer many of the benefits of an in-person experience: You can build your skills, add something to your resume, explore a particular organization, and make important connections. Interning from home can also present new challenges for both you and your supervisor. Check out the tips below to prepare and make the most of your remote internship experience.
Just as your supervisor would show you around an in-person office, you should set up a time to have a virtual orientation. You should talk to your supervisor about the expectations of the internship. What are your specific responsibilities? What is the timeframe for completing your tasks? What systems, equipment, or training will you need to succeed? Who are your colleagues and “go-to” people? If any of these questions are unclear, don’t be afraid to ask.
Establish a routine
Designating a relatively consistent schedule and workspace can help you maintain boundaries and boost your productivity. Your supervisor may have suggestions about when to make yourself available for project work time or meetings. Don’t forget to schedule breaks, too. At an in-person internship, you would likely take a few minutes each day to catch-up with co-workers or grab a cup of coffee, or 30 to 60 minutes for a lunch break. Plan to do the same during your remote internship, and try to get some screen-free time when you can.
One tricky part of working remotely is that it’s harder to poke your head into your supervisor’s office to ask questions. As early as possible, get clear on how you should ask questions. Each organization has its own culture, so this might be done over email, on a phone call, or in a messaging system like Slack. Make sure you know how to ask questions, and speak up early and often.
Check in regularly
It’s helpful to schedule a regular check-in with your supervisor so that you can check your progress. You can use this opportunity to make sure your projects are on track, ask about next steps, and learn about any updates at the organization.
Ask for feedback
Even if your supervisor doesn’t initiate a conversation on feedback, you might want to. Receiving feedback on your performance might initially feel awkward or intimidating, but it gives you opportunities to grow and to adjust course. You might ask about the quality of your work products, or inquire about ways that you could improve. Keep in mind that many organizations use internships as a “try out” opportunity to evaluate people for future roles. Supervisors tend to appreciate it when people are proactive and willing to work on their performance and skills, and it can help demonstrate your ability to grow in this organization over time.
Connect with your people
Other employees at your internship may someday be your colleagues and part of your professional network. Your internship is a great time to develop these relationships. See if you can “meet” with others for lunch or a conversation about their work. You may learn about new career options, and can show your interest and curiosity in different parts of the organization.
The toughest part about remote internships is that it can be easy to hide. Resist the urge! Be assertive, ask questions, and get connected with your new coworkers at every opportunity. This is a great time for you to show your adaptivity, curiosity, and willingness to dive in.
Do you have other questions about internships or adapting in the age of COVID-19? Take a look at the Career Center’s current resources to get in touch.