Virtual internships have seem to become the norm. As a college student, these are opportunities worth taking. It’s absolutely possible to gain just as much knowledge and experience. With increased flexibility, these online opportunities can provide a cheaper but just as beneficial alternative to the standard on-location internships. However, with all that unstructured time, they present a challenge that in-person jobs often don’t. It’s important to actively take steps to set yourself up for success. Not sure how? Ahead, we’ve put together nine tips to help you make the most of your virtual internship.
- Do your research. Just because you’re interested in virtual internships doesn’t mean you don’t need to be a good fit for the company. Do your research about the brand. Feel out the person interviewing you to see if there’s a good rapport between you. Not liking the people you’re working with or the place you’re interning for can end in discomfort at best and disaster at worst, so try to find out before you actually accept the internship whether or not it will be a good fit for you.
- Build a relationship with your supervisor. They’ll be your go-to connection with any questions or assignments you have during your internship, so establish a good connection with them right when you start. Not only will this help you in the internship, but that relationship could help you land a job down the line.
- Stay in contact. Intern Queen explains that, “You never want your team to wonder what you’re working on (or even worse, if you’re working at all). To avoid this, I would recommend checking in with your team at the beginning of every shift detailing what you will be working on throughout the day. Then, follow up as you make your way through your tasks.” Don’t go rogue just because you’re not working face-to-face with your boss. Instead, make sure you know what needs to be done, and make sure she knows you’re doing it as well. This will ensure that everyone’s on the same page throughout the day. Checking in also helps hold you accountable for getting your work done.
- Make a schedule. One of the most difficult parts about a virtual internship is the unstructured time. It can be all too easy to forget when things are due because you are not physically in an office every day. Making a daily schedule will allow you to plan out when you’re going to work on assignments so that you’re always on top of your work. At CF, we’re big fans of physical, paper planners as well as utilizing our Google Calendars. Find what works for you and stick to it.
- Ask for feedback. As an intern, it’s important to show enthusiasm and willingness to learn. Asking for feedback consistently makes it apparent that you care about the work you are doing and you want to improve. It can be tough to hear improvements your boss would like you to make, but in the long run you’ll be a better intern and employee.
- Stay organized. Intern Queen states that, “Staying organized during a remote internship includes staying on top of deadlines, meetings and follow-ups.” But when you’re working from home, it can be hard to keep track of everything when no one’s there to remind you in person. Use that physical planner or calendar app, and make it a priority to keep your work organized and compartmentalized.
- Set goals. This will give you the opportunity to see your progression over a period of time. Whether it’s short term or long-term, setting goals allows you to push yourself in a positive direction during virtual internships. It also helps you keep track of your progress, so you’ll know if there’s ever a time when you need to push yourself more.
- Take initiative. When you know something needs to be done, do it before you’re asked. Taking initiative and showing your boss that you can do things without being told to—they’ll definitely appreciate it. As Intern Queen says, “The goal of an internship is to learn, so take advantage of all of the opportunities that you can. If you see an opportunity to work on a new kind of project or to listen in to a call with the CEO, don’t be afraid to ask about it!” Not only should you start projects before you’re asked to, but don’t be afraid to ask for new tasks and come up with original ideas as well.
Have you ever taken part in virtual internships? Comment your biggest takeaway below!
Opening image by Marissa Ganley
This post was originally published on April 10, 2018, and has since been updated.