You were looking forward to spending your internship or course placement in the offices of your chosen company. But now it looks like you will be completing a virtual internship while based at home, where the sleek office you were hoping for is now replaced by your bedroom. Completing your internship while working from home will have its perks and challenges.
Ideally, Day 1 comes along and you have already ticked off:
- your morning run or exercise
- healthy breakfast
- smart (but comfortable) clothes
- settled into a bright (and clear from clutter) work space
- are ahead of time and ready to meet your new team for the first time.
So far, so good. Now what?
Logging into your first Introductory meeting via a video call requires the same mental effort as heading out and commuting into your new work office. Except now the time you are saving in commuting can be used for a little extra preparation.
Bear in mind that working remotely will also be a fairly recent reality for most managers and your colleagues – you are not the only one who is finding ways to adjust.
There is no blue print fully developed yet for how to master working from home- so expect some hiccups along the way. We have outlined below some advice and tips for how to navigate your virtual internship to make sure you learn a lot and make a great impression along the way.
Even though as a recent graduate or placement student you might have less experience in the workplace you already have many advantages to help you work effectively such as being adaptable and technologically savvy.
Prepare, Step-Up and Learn as you Go
You may find you have to take more ownership of your learning and progression as you start to add value and collaborate within your new team.
Your manager won’t be as aware of how well (or not) you are working through your list of work tasks, as they would be if you were sitting in the same open plan office with them. Keep communicating with them and when you don’t know – tell them you need help.
Don’t miss the regular catch up meetings with your manager and/or team.
Make sure you know where to find details of the weekly planned team meetings. Some notifications are sent via e-mail to all staff but others may be announced via internal bulletin boards. Find out where those are and make note. You don’t want to be absent and out of the information flow because you didn’t know about the meeting in the first place!
If you haven’t been assigned one, identify a mentor in the company early on (ideally a recent graduate just a year or two ahead of you) and ask for feedback from time to time. This is the best way to learn the internal culture and the “company way” of getting things done.
Keep a work diary of the daily tasks you are asked to do or the reading materials you need to cover. This is helpful so you avoid the feeling that you are doing too much or not enough. Don’t shy away from putting forward your views and suggestions – they hired you because they think you have something to contribute – so contribute!
Spend time figuring out how all of the communication systems used by the company work. Before you start ask what platforms they use and give yourself a crash course via Google and YouTube on what they all do.
You don’t want to miss out on the information flow because you couldn’t figure out how to log into Teams or use the company Instant Messaging system. Store log-in and password details safely and compliant with the company policy – no passwords written into notebooks! Instead use the notebook for recording questions and ideas you want to follow up on when you get the time.
Make sure your electronic devices e.g head-set and laptop are fully charged. Keep a battery power pack fully charged in case of power cuts or emergencies. “Sorry I couldn’t call the customer because my phone ran out of charge” is not a great response to your boss.
Is there anyone out there?
Now that all of your work interactions have gone virtual It may feel a little lonesome at times- unless you make efforts to stay connected. If you are joining alongside a group of Interns, get to know them by creating an outside WhatsApp group and bond over your shared experience throughout this virtual internship.
Have ready a short introduction about yourself ahead of meeting the team.
Let them know who you are by telling them what you studied and why you joined the company. Mention some of your passions and interests too- this gives a glimpse of your personality and will help them to remember you.
Make yourself digitally available to the team
Make your digital calendar visible to your team so they know when is a good time contact you. If you are logged into Teams this will have an availability indication with red of green light over your name.
Safeguard your Work-life Balance
Make sure you have a quiet and bright place to work. “Don’t work from your bed and stay a safe distance from your fridge and pantry.” We are not joking. This is a real warning from an experienced home worker interviewed. The last thing you want is to also struggle with a sudden weight gain as a result of working from home.
Make a daily to-do-list, keep your schedule tight but do stop for breaks. If you would take a break around 11 for a coffee when working in the office try to replicate that at home.
It is all about creating connections and consistently communicating to avoid misunderstandings.
It can feel overwhelming to start and learn a new role, create new relationships, connect with your new colleagues, adapt to the culture, and give a good impression.
You focus should be on establishing relationships and expectations. It will pay off in the long run as you continue to learn. With a virtual internship you still have the opportunity to showcase your talent and creative abilities.
To find more tips on how to work collaboratively with your team remotely. Click here
Or for more tips on how to transition into a remote work life you can listen to this RTE radio interview with the author of CV & Interview 101