Has your summer internship been transformed into a remote internship as a result of COVID-19? It’s okay to be a bit disappointed, but you’re really one of the lucky ones. Many 2020 internships have been postponed or cancelled altogether. However, your employer values you enough to honor your internship—while sparing you the anxiety of relocating this summer. Now it’s up to you to make the most of it!
Although you’ll no longer be working onsite, you can still reap many key benefits of your original arrangement. Chances are, your goals included:
- Gaining professional, real-world experience
- Making future career connections
- Scoring achievements to punch-up your resume
With a little planning and flexibility, you can still accomplish all of these things. Here’s 10 ways to get there, all while establishing yourself as a remote intern rock star.
1. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
It’s your manager’s responsibility to set goals, expectations and deadlines, but it’s your responsibility to ask questions when you need to and provide updates along the way. Find out how, and how often, your manager prefers to communicate—i.e., via email, videoconference, text, etc. When it comes to tone and formality, take your cue from your manager and team.
2. Set a Regular Workday Schedule
Even if your internship is project-based rather than hourly, follow a set workday schedule that matches that of your team. Creating a structured workday will help you stay focused—one of the most important skills of successful remote workers. It will also help you maintain a healthy work/life balance, which is particularly challenging when you work from home.
3. Be Hyper Organized
Keep a written daily and weekly to-do list, and update them continuously. If your work doesn’t include hard deadlines, create your own, breaking projects down into manageable stages. Being accountable—even if only to yourself—will help you maintain productivity. This is not like writing a term paper the night before it’s due.
Also, one of the disadvantages of remote work is that it’s easy to lose track of time. Beyond maintaining a calendar, set meeting and deadline alerts for yourself.
4. Act Like a Pro
The more professional you act, the more professional your output will be. Productivity experts recommend carving out one physical workspace (assuming your living space allows it) and even designating a “work wardrobe” (maybe not full-blown business attire, but a few steps up from sweats). In other words, psych yourself into a professional mindset.
5. Participate Actively in Meetings
Don’t be a fly on the wall in meetings. Do your prep work, research unfamiliar topics, and be ready to answer any questions that may come your way. It helps to jot down questions and talking points in advance. Although listening is more important than speaking, look for opportunities to participate meaningfully. (The earlier in a conversation you speak up, the easier it will get.)
6. Take Excellent Notes
You would probably absorb more company information by working onsite, so you’ll need to work a little harder to fill in the gaps in your knowledge. Take detailed notes during meetings and conversations. Immediately afterwards, review and edit them—this will help you remember what was discussed and offer greater clarity later. This is also the time to move any action items to your to-do list—before you move onto something else.
7. Don’t Skip Virtual Teambuilding Activities
One of the most valuable aspects of onsite internships is the interaction with coworkers and fellow interns. While that’s not as easy to achieve on a remote basis, attend every virtual group activity you’re invited to join. Many employers are now holding virtual events on Friday afternoons; others are playing digital group games to keep their teams united while they’re apart. This is one way to forge key connections that may last beyond your internship.
8. Videoconferencing? Put Your Best Face Forward
Lots of businesses are videoconferencing these days. Dress professionally for your first phone call; then, follow the lead of others when it comes to dress code. Be sure to set the stage behind you, so the view people see isn’t too personal or cluttered. If that’s not an option, choose a neutral virtual background.
9. Keep a Running List of Achievements
During your internship, document your projects and accomplishments in real-time—they’ll never be fresher in your mind. Projects you handled, software programs you mastered, specific tasks you took over…you don’t know what you may want to highlight when applying for future jobs, so capture it all in detail now.
In particular, note of any measurable accomplishments you and/or your team achieved—percentages of increased clicks or page views, or dollars and hours saved. Specifics like these show you know your stuff and will set your resume apart.
10. Go Above and Beyond
Of course, you want to secure a glowing recommendation from your manager once your internship is complete. To that end, be enthusiastic, positive, and ready to roll up your sleeves. If you have ideas, research and present them. If you have extra bandwidth, volunteer for extra projects.
No, a remote internship is not quite the same as working onsite. On the plus side, if you can establish yourself as a remote intern rock star in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, when all is said and done, you may shine all the brighter.