An internship is almost always a big opportunity, especially for a college student looking to hone a skill before pursuing their career. Remote internships are perhaps less common, although the COVID-19 pandemic has made these opportunities more prominent than ever. Just because they’re remote doesn’t mean they’re any less significant, however.
Remote internships can be a great way to gain experience and connections in your desired field from the comfort of your own home. Gaining experience through internships can help set you apart from 1 in 10 people who are reportedly looking for a new job in the near future. Overall, it’s a uniquely wonderful opportunity, though it can also be challenging because of the lack of one-on-one connections to superiors and colleagues. In a lot of ways, you have to work harder to get the most out of a remote internship than you would with a traditional in-person one.
That said, there are many ways you can prepare for your remote internship to make sure it’s the experience you need to move yourself forward in your career. The most important thing you can do to prepare for a remote internship is to plan and set up a comfortable, productive work space that can lend itself to doing great work. Since a virtual internship doesn’t allow you to be in a physical location outside of your home, having an organized, clean, and well thought out desk and work space will ensure that you can focus properly and give your internship the attention it needs.
Organization is crucial in other ways as well—primarily when it comes to taking notes, tracking your schedule, and generally managing the day-to-day of your internship. Keep a calendar and a running set of notes that’s dated; this way, you won’t miss any important information that could impact the structure and success of the internship. It’s quite possibly more important to stay organized during a remote internship than in any other work situation, because of the unique circumstances it puts you under.
It’s also important to set goals for your internship. Since it’s remote, you should consider goals that are realistic given the scope and structure of the experience. Figure out what you want out of it, what some roadblocks might be as a result of it being remote, what you can do to overcome those, and what some concrete results you’d like to see come to fruition at the end. You should also make sure to curb your expectations as much as possible, considering that it’s a virtual internship and things will operate much differently than your typical internship.
Managing your expectations should also extend to how you interact with colleagues on a day-to-day basis. It’s important to keep in mind that the pandemic has impacted morale for many people in many jobs, so not everyone may be willing to offer as much help or guidance as you’d like depending on what they have on their plate. Instead, focus on really learning and offering a helping hand to staff where needed.
In a remote internship, it’s especially important to go above and beyond in situations where you think it’s needed. Internships are a great way to be noticed and connect with people who might be able to help you achieve the next step in your professional life, and if you go the extra mile you will undoubtedly be putting yourself in a great position in that regard.
All in all, a virtual internship doesn’t differ too much from an in-person one. What it really takes is some extra dedication, motivation, attention to detail, and organization. If you can get those things in a healthy place, you’ll end up having one of the most formative and vital experiences of your professional life.
— Article by Sean Kelly, an analyst researching the latest industry trends for College Recruiter