As we close another year with the pandemic, there has been a tremendous shift in the way we socialize and work, especially within the workplace. Remote work has become the “new normal,” with many companies allowing either hybrid or fully remote positions, with more to follow suit. 

While job hunting can be a challenging process especially for fresh graduates who lack relevant working experience, securing an internship has also taken a hit. In 2020, there was a 52% drop in internship opportunities according to recent research. Yet, the silver lining is that companies are now transitioning to incorporate virtual internships, with 42% of employers telling the National Association of Colleges and Employers that they are moving their internship programs to a fully virtual format.

Therefore, whether you’re interning remotely for the first time or working full-time from home, these useful tips will guide your remote journey, giving you the motivation to continue your learning and making the most of your remote working experience! 

1. Create a Comfortable Environment Set for Success

While the idea of working from home has an attractive appeal, homes are not always the ideal place to work. With kids, loud construction, cute pets or a lack of office equipment distracting and hindering your productivity. Therefore, it is important to create a comfortable home office that meets your needs and be a place where you can take pride in. Remember that you’ll be spending long hours by your desk and computer so investing in the right equipment will make a huge difference to improving your productivity and comfort.

It is also important to remember to separate your work and home space. When possible, try to have a separate working space, as this will help you to focus on your tasks at hand, but it will also allow you to let go of work at the end of your working day.

2. Set Realistic Goals and Expectations

We all find it daunting when we take on a new role within a company, so do take the time to familiarize yourself with the company culture, your colleagues as well as your role and responsibilities. 

One way to relieve some of those first day nerves is to set aside some time with your mentor or manager, so you can discuss and set your goals and expectations for the internship. It is also helpful to track your goals on a weekly basis by using management tools like Asana, so you can evaluate your progress and celebrate your accomplishments.

3. Time Management is Key… Pace Yourself and Take Breaks. 

It can be tempting to set up back-to-back meetings when you’re working remotely. After all, it’s not like you need to travel between meetings, so it is feasible. 

However, over time, this will definitely lead to work burnout, so instead, allow yourself a short break in between meetings, give yourselves a few minutes to stretch your legs and clear your mind. This will not only improve your productivity, but also your posture and general wellbeing. 

4. Set Boundaries and Communicate Clearly

It is easy to fall into the trap of being readily available, especially at the start of your internship. Time can seem boundless when slack, email, and other project management systems are always running in the background, not to mention when you’re working with different time zones. You may find you receive messages or are assigned tasks throughout the day and evening, but just because the task is assigned, it doesn’t mean you need to complete the task immediately. 

This is why it’s important to set clear boundaries about your “office hours”. It can be daunting, but speak with your mentor or manager about your availability to give yourself the necessary balance and structure, setting a good precedent for your remote working life.  

5. Strive to Socialize

Being in a virtual workspace is not the most conducive environment to socialize with your fellow coworkers. But don’t let that discourage you from doing so anyways. Take the opportunity to make virtual coffees, connect on LinkedIn, join company events, and online social clubs.  

If there are any team-building sessions, then be sure to attend them as this will not only improve your team rapport but it also makes you feel more included and part of the team. You won’t regret it.

6. Absorb as Much Knowledge as Possible

Each person you meet will have a wealth of knowledge, you are joining an established business with professionals who have spent ample time perfecting their skills. So take the time to learn from your seniors and be inquisitive. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and to take an interest. Chances are, you will learn something that will take you far beyond your internship.

7. Find Ways to Assist

Just because you are an intern doesn’t mean you don’t add value to the company. You, as a person, bring an abundance of skills, experiences, and energy to the space, whether virtual or not. 

So don’t forget to utilize your talents by helping your team… even if it wasn’t asked of you. Take some initiative; your proactiveness will not go unnoticed. Show your mentor or manager that you are ready to take on more responsibility. 

8. Find Out What You Love… and What You Don’t

During one of my great 1-on-1 chats at Method, a mentor told me that it was important to explore what you love and more importantly what you don’t love. An internship provides the perfect opportunity to learn what you’re passionate about and what you can live without. 

Take the opportunity to learn as many different skills as you can, and when you come across an area you particularly like then speak with your mentor, show an interest and look for ways you can continue to gain more skills and experience in this area. 

9. Do Everything to the Best of Your Ability

This is straightforward. Never think that quantity is better than quality. Eager minds like myself want to take on everything at once but it is best to choose one thing and to do it well rather than doing 100 things poorly. 

Remember that you are there to learn, so be patient in perfecting your skills. You’ve got this!

10. Being Kind Takes You A Long Way

This is also pretty straightforward but many tend to overlook this. Remember that you are working within a team and inside of a company culture. We all experience good and bad days from time to time, so a little compassion goes a long way. Be a team player and prioritize compassion and empathy towards those around you. 

So, What’s the Conclusion?

You’ve been given a fantastic opportunity to learn new skills and to connect with experts within the field. Use your time productively, learn from your colleagues, but most importantly, have fun and enjoy yourself! 

You never know what the future holds. If you impress your mentor enough, they may even keep you on after the internship finishes.  

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