A summer internship is a staple for many college students worldwide. Being able to shadow, learn and soak in all that an organization has to offer is what students like yourself are looking for in an internship experience, but what happens when being in-person is no longer an option?
COVID-19 has forced many teams to cancel their internship plans for the summer, but those that held on are facing a new challenge – running an internship program remotely. If you’re one of the lucky interns whose summer plans remain intact, we’re here to ensure you’re prepared to tackle this unique experience like a pro.
Set up your workspace
Before starting your internship, it’s essential to get your workplace situated, whether you’re living with family, friends, roommates or by yourself!
The goal of a remote internship is to mimic an in-person experience as much as possible. Setting up your workplace to reflect what it’d look like in an office setting will help you feel like you’re there. You wouldn’t walk into the office and expect to crash on the couch or lounge in bed; the same goes for working remotely! Create your own workstation in a clean, well-lit location with little foot traffic and low noise level. When considering the location of your workplace, ensure that you have a strong WiFi connection and good cell service.
At minimum, invest in a desk and comfortable chair; you’ll spend many hours here, so make the most out of it! Other features that can help maximize your work include: an extra monitor, an adjustable laptop stand, a wireless keyboard and mouse, a Type-C USB hub and surge protectors. Don’t forget to customize your work area with any personal touches like plants, motivational quotes, candles or photos of friends and family.
Before beginning your internship, don’t be afraid to reach out to your company to ensure you have everything you need. Some companies may issue specific documents, manuals, training guides or technology that they need to give you, or they may recommend certain items. If you need something from your company, communicate with them to best figure out how to receive the materials. This is also a good time to stock up on highlighters, pens, sticky notes or anything that will help you get work done.
Establish a routine
While you’re working from home, it can be tempting to sleep in and roll out of bed five minutes before your workday begins, but this can ruin your entire day. Set yourself up for success by establishing a routine! Get yourself an appropriate amount of sleep, wake up at the same time every day, make yourself coffee and breakfast, and plan out your day. If you’re living with roommates, friends or family, communicate your work hours to them to minimize distractions and interruptions.
Additionally, be sure to treat your remote internship like a regular in-office job; block off time on your calendar and dedicate time to work on the various projects you have.
Given the remote environment, it is also essential to plan for breaks ahead of time. In the office, an easy way to give yourself a break is to take a trip to the water cooler, coffee station or to chat with a fellow co-worker. Working from home makes it easier for you to get absorbed in your work, so be mindful and plan a few breaks throughout your day to maintain productivity.
Dress for success
When you work from home, it can be incredibly tempting to stay in comfortable clothes all day. While you may think this is the best way for you to work, the reality is that this won’t put you in the right headspace.
The first step is to figure out how your team is expected to dress. If these guidelines aren’t given to you before your first day, don’t be afraid to ask! It’s much less embarrassing to send a quick email to your supervisor asking what the expectation for dress is than to show up to your first video call wearing a t-shirt when everyone else is in professional wear.
Now, you may be thinking: “All that matters is that I look professional from the waist up because I’ll be on video calls all day long”. In theory, you’re right, but there’s more to it. Getting dressed from top to bottom is going to put you in a better, more professional headspace throughout the day. Plus, those pajama pants you want to wear are going to make the couch look way more tempting than it needs to during the workday.
Remember that just because you’re not in the office doesn’t mean you can’t act like you are. Pretend your at-home desk is a cubicle on the second floor of your organization’s office building; you’ll thank yourself for it later.
Communication is key
Communication is important in any role, team or organization you’re in, but it’s amplified when you move to a remote work environment. Fellow interns and supervisors can’t see what you’re doing all day, and if you go radio silent it’s only natural for them to assume that the work they’re assigning isn’t getting done.
Take the initiative to reach out to the people on your team throughout the day. Check-in first thing in the morning and let them know what you’ll be working on. After lunch, check-in again to see if there’s anything you need to do before end of day. At the end of the day, check-in once more to recap your day and get any final thoughts from your supervisor. The key theme? Check-in! It won’t annoy your teammates and will show them your level of hardwork and dedication.
Beyond your normal communication around tasks and projects you complete, don’t be afraid to set up video calls periodically to get to know your team members. When you’re in an office setting, that comes naturally, but when you’re working remote, you must work harder at it. This rings true for your supervisors, fellow interns and other teammates. Don’t let these circumstances get in the way of one of the best parts of an internship experience – cultivating relationships.
The overall message? Communication, communication … and then more communication!
Go the extra mile
To get the most out of your internship, keep a record of your accomplishments, lessons learned and challenges faced while in your program. The time spent during your internship and the projects you complete tend to go by quickly, so having a record of major focus areas and accomplishments is a great way to keep track of your experience. This log can benefit you as you look to update your résumé and fill out your portfolio, and can even help your organization because these tangible achievements can be used to quantify the benefit of their internship program. It’s truly a win-win!
Interested in becoming an executive recruiting intern? Email your cover letter and résumé to Charles Aris learning and development leader Brent Anthony at firstname.lastname@example.org. Internships run year-round.
Interested in the Charles Aris internship program but would rather hone your skills in research, data analytics, marketing, video production or graphic design? Email your cover letter and résumé to Charles Aris vice president Brian Styers at email@example.com. Internships run year-round.