How to succeed in a virtual internship

By Lexi Kornblum

No one could have expected the rapid and staggering changes that have occurred in 2020. While it has been difficult, we’ve all adapted our practices and we’re moving forward. Now, remote working is more plentiful than ever, and it’s not quite the same as in-office work. 

Getting an internship is a crucial step in the career process for college students and recent graduates alike. Internship can give you experience in your chosen field, and help you network for the future. Approximately 60% of employers are planning to offer virtual internships in the coming months, so taking the time beforehand to prepare yourself is key.

“Virtual internships are a great experience, and while they present some unique challenges, they give you flexibility and they’re great preparation for the real world.” – Dani Moritz

Here are some tips to help you thrive in your virtual internship:

Communication is key:

Having good communication is absolutely vital to succeeding in a remote work environment. Sending emails, setting Zoom meetings and using Google calendars are going to be your bread and butter for the upcoming months. Keep in mind that each company already has their own communication system, like using Microsoft Outlook or Google, and you should adjust to it as quickly as you can. Having strong communication skills benefits both yourself and your employer, and learning these systems quickly in a remote world is critical to your success.

Focus on learning

An internship is an opportunity to test your skills in a professional setting. This is your time to learn and grow in your field, and it’s important to take advantage of that. Remember that you’re always learning, and this internship is a fantastic opportunity to gain knowledge from industry professionals. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or present new ideas— it’s all part of the process! 

Plan & organize your days

It’s a fast-paced world these days, and it’s more important than ever to plan and organize your work days. Tehama Group Communications has a full blog on staying organized during virtual life, and it’s a great read! Find a system that works for you. Whether that’s using pen and paper planners, or a virtual calendar and phone alarm system, it’s crucial to have a way of organizing your responsibilities. It’s entirely possible that you’re still going to school full-time and working on an internship, in which it’s even more important that you have your organizational system in place. Once you find your system, stick to it and make it work for you.

Be proactive

It’s a good idea in any internship to take the initiative on projects, and show dedication to your work. In a virtual internship, it’s absolutely vital that you be proactive in your work. It can be easy to fade into the background in a remote workplace— you can always turn your camera or microphone off during meetings. By being proactive and joining the conversation, adding your ideas or offering your expertise on a project, it shows that you’re active and engaged with the company. Proactivity is a great way to show your employer just how enthusiastic you are about the work.

Build relationships

An internship is the perfect opportunity to build your professional network. You’ll be working in your chosen field alongside your coworkers and peers, and they really do want to help you! Ask questions and engage in conversation with your fellow employees. Taking the time outside of mandatory training or meetings to make connections with your peers shows that you’re invested in your growth and willing to step out of your comfort zone. People will remember you years from now if you play your cards right, and that can help with job opportunities, earned media for your company, and more. 

While internships can seem like a daunting step in your career, but they’re really just an incredible opportunity for self-growth and gaining professional experience. You will always learn something new from a virtual internship, so it’s important to take advantage of this fantastic opportunity, and keep your mind open to the new experience. And lastly, remember to enjoy your virtual internship and all it has to offer!

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