Navigating Virtual Internships
By Mandy Lucci, Account Coordinator, Spring 2021
COVID-19 has shifted the workplace in virtually every setting. Businesses have adjusted by making sure they align with CDC guidelines. One aspect that has been altered is the structure of a company’s internship program. With many employees being sent home, internships have either gone fully remote or have been morphed into a hybrid version that consists of at-home work and in-person visits. Either way, the expectations of working as an intern have drastically transformed, causing many students to be forced to learn in completely uncharted territory through their computer screens.
This transition is scary enough when you can walk into an office. Now, being introduced to a company’s culture, structure, strategy, expectations and colleagues is even more overwhelming. As you slowly navigate what it means to be a remote intern, the tips laid out below offer some guidance of how you can get the best out of your experience. By using these tips to go above and beyond producing work for your internship program, you can take advantage of this opportunity, despite being in your bedroom office.
Dress to Impress.
As silly as it sounds, having a consistent routine established each day has been proven to increase productivity and self-esteem. It has been said many times before, but if you dress for the part, you will be more likely to feel and act in a professional manner.
Don’t be Afraid to Ask.
Raising your hand during a team meeting can cause anyone’s heart rate to abruptly rise but for some reason, unmuting yourself in a Zoom meeting seems even more terrifying. One thing to keep in mind when these nerves set in is that everyone here is willing to help. Odds are many of your colleagues enjoy having young faces around and are eager to provide a helping hand. Send a colleague a quick message or ask to schedule a brief meeting with them if you have a question or need direction.
We are all lacking social interaction. If there are other interns on the team, send a quick chat introducing yourself. Schedule a meeting to get to know the other interns and exchange contact information. Making these connections can not only add a bit of fun to your work but also provide a support system during this uncertain time.
Know Your Company.
Knowing your company is always important as a communications employee, however, getting to know who you are working for is difficult when you cannot have face-to-face conversations, see the office building, get a sense of the tone the company portrays or even see the team working in action. It is incredibly important that you do your research, so you know what you are talking about.
The idea of networking has transformed completely. Instead of grabbing a cup of coffee or shaking a stranger’s hand, interns must go out of their way to find, contact and initiate conversation with colleagues they would like to connect with. Because internships are temporary, it is essential that you form relationships with other colleagues at the company if you see a future with them. By sending an email asking to meet, you could open new doors to a path that appeared to be a dead end. Have these conversations, learn about other opportunities, and make a lasting impression even if you have to do so through a Zoom call plays a substantial part in your own career development.
People around the globe are learning from the situations Covid-19 made inevitable. Instead of shying away from the unknown, take this as an opportunity to lay the path for others. As young adults during a pandemic, we are the first generation to explore an internship position completely online. Show employers that this is not a boundary we cannot handle. Instead of seeing an online work environment as a limitation, explore the many ways you can take advantage of the situation and not only get through it, but progress it.