Back in spring of 2020, many companies opted to cancel summer internship opportunities due to the rising COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, many companies adapted and chose to implement virtual programming both to adhere to recommendations set forth by the Center for Disease Control and to replicate the internship experience that once was. With summer 2022 internship application deadlines quickly approaching, let’s face it — virtual internships aren’t going anywhere.
Despite the convenience they may provide, we all know that virtual internships can be hard. You’re trying to network, learn and work all through the lens of a screen. However, while difficult, they also provide unique opportunities to learn the importance of leadership, communication, goal setting, empathy and the value of connection. Here are some of VALLEY’s best tips and tricks for nailing your virtual internship.
Set Clear Goals
When you’re working virtually, getting set up at an internship can be a difficult experience, so discuss and plan with your supervisor to consider what you’ll need to be successful. Set both professional and personal goals for yourself that outline what you hope to gain from the experience and what your supervisor expects of you as an intern.
Once you have these goals written out, schedule check-ins with your supervisor throughout your internship experience to ensure you are making progress toward the goals you discussed. These check-ins will help you hold yourself accountable and ensure the work you do leads you to your goals.
Show Yourself Empathy
Give yourself grace. If you’re not able to meet your goals perfectly 100% of the time, that’s okay. It’s important to remember that just like with all new things, remote working takes some getting used to. While VALLEY recognizes that the majority of students have (mostly) adjusted to remote learning, working brings its own set of new challenges. As long as your work is getting done, it’s okay if there are more distractions — and there likely will be.
With that in mind, remember to ask for support when you need it and to ask questions when you have them. Ultimately, an internship is an opportunity to learn, and you’re not expected to know everything. By asking for help, you’ll be able to get yourself back on the right track towards success.
Keeping yourself organized is key to any successful internship; it’s what will ensure you’re staying on top of all of the assignments you are given. Make to-do lists, take notes and write everything down to keep track of important dates and assignments. Whether you’re using a notebook, planner or a cross-platform task app like Google Calendar or Notion, staying organized will keep you sane when things get hectic.
On top of utilizing those resources to keep yourself on track, set yourself up with a daily schedule, and try to work those hours each week. Most companies will make that easy. They’ll tell you the amount of hours they expect you to work within a week, and the hours in which you should be available. In sticking to that same schedule each week, you’ll have an organized routine, mimic a real office environment and make it harder for yourself to procrastinate on important assignments.
In a virtual environment, it can be easy to feel isolated from your coworkers and cut off from the larger office dynamic. VALLEY recommends staying in contact with those that you work with as much as possible. Schedule daily or weekly check-ins with your supervisor, set aside time to replicate “water cooler talk” with those both in and out of your department and mingle with your fellow interns. While it feels hard to network online, it’s not impossible! Things like workshops, lunch and learns, and virtual walk and talks can all provide you with an opportunity to grow and make lasting connections.
Make the Most of Your Experience
Fear not, a virtual internship is not the end of the world. Make the most of it, engage with those around you and soak it all in. In some cases, a virtual internship may even provide you with an experience you might not have received had it been in-person.
Have any other tips and tricks for successfully navigating a virtual internship? Tweet us, @VALLEYmag, and let us know!