If you snagged a remote internship this semester, congrats! Welcome to the world of flexible work. While remote internships have a ton of pros, you'll still need to be prepared to work and complete all of your intern responsibilities, even with the potential distractions at home.
So, how can you stay focused and make sure you’re getting things done in your new role? And how can you make the most of your experience when you're not going into a physical office every day? Here are five practical tips for making the most of your remote internship, according to college students.
- Plan AHEAD & stick to a schedule
To fight all the distractions that can take you away from work at home, come up with a work schedule to stay organized! Plan your responsibilities for the day or week, and then map out time blocks that you’ll use to complete each task. That way, you’ll stay on track and fight the temptation to be unproductive, which happens a lot with remote internships.
“I set out a work schedule every week and a daily quota based on that schedule. This helped me reach my content goals every week and kept me on track,” says Megan Fink, a senior at Southern Mississippi University. “To make a remote internship work, you've got to be naturally task-oriented and organized. No one is holding your hand anymore.”
If you do find yourself straying away from your schedule, you may need to alter your agenda a bit or create an incentive for you to get back on track. For example, you can extend your lunch break in your schedule so you can recharge more, or you can let yourself chat with friends for 30 minutes, but only after you finish a large task. There are many ways to keep yourself motivated, so think of ways that will work for you!
- Get rid of any distractions
At an in-person internship, you’d typically put away your music, avoid scrolling through social media during work hours, and make sure you weren’t watching any shows or surfing the web (except for work purposes!). However, when you’re working from home, having no supervisor to watch over you can make distractions super tempting. While you can definitely keep Facebook open and the TV on without anyone knowing, you need to be sure that it doesn't negatively impact your productivity!
Lesley Mitler, a career counseling professional and the co-founder of Early Stage Careers, recommends shutting off the TV and your access to any websites or group chats that normally take you away from internship tasks.
- CONNECT WITH YOUR SUPERVISOR & TEAMMATES
A good way to stay on track during a remote internship is to check in with your supervisor regularly, just as you would with an in-person internship. Constant communication with your supervisor is a great way to stay accountable — you'll stay on track by letting them know how much work you’ve completed, and they'll continue to assign tasks as needed (which will definitely help you stay focused and busy).
Lily Herman, a sophomore at Wesleyan University, says that connecting with different employees at her remote internship helped enrich the experience overall. She tells Her Campus, “I asked to Skype or Google Hangout with multiple members of the team…even though I couldn't physically go to work all day. It does take a lot of your own personal initiative, however, I've found that the more I've asked for, the more I've received. I've had a totally enriching and fulfilling [internship] experience!”
Establishing respectful, ongoing communication with your supervisor is even more essential in a remote internship since you’ll have less opportunities to make in-person connections. Try setting up meetings with members of your team to really cement your work relationships, even while working from home.
“It really depends on the internship, but I think you can get a lot more experience if you just ask for things,” Lily tells Her Campus. “I've taken on more projects and happily offered to work on some other pieces that weren't originally assigned to me, so I had more of a chance to interact with the company.”
- Dress for the occasion
Part of feeling like you’re at an office is dressing like you’re at an office, and the same goes when you’re interning at home. Although wearing sweats while working from home isn't necessarily a bad thing, putting on a hoodie instead of a button-down could diminish that professional feeling.
Aurora Stromberg, a junior at Ohio State University, tells Her Campus, “I would always put on a nicer outfit like I was actually going somewhere, and I'd do my hair and makeup. You never know when your boss might want to Skype!"
So, when you wake up in the morning for the first day of your remote internship, consider trying on a blouse instead of a cotton t-shirt, or a pencil skirt or dress pants instead of your everyday sweats. Chances are, you’ll feel a lot more professional and ready to get to work!
- act like you have an onsite internship
Remote internships should be approached with the same professionalism as in-person internships, even if the experiences feel drastically different from each other. Your main motivation should still be to build connections and impress your supervisor just as you would with an on-site role! This means that you need to find ways to imitate an office work environment, which involves staying super focused, organized, and acting as you would if your supervisor was nearby.
“Staying focused is difficult, as is any online course or job, but I think the biggest thing to remember is that no matter where you do your internship, you're getting incredible experience,” says Laura Bauman, a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. “So when you have a really difficult task or project to push through, think of how you might do it in an ‘on-location’ setting, and remember that even though it's difficult, it's so worth it!” I couldn't agree more.
Lesley Mitler, Co-Founder of Early Stage Careers
Megan Fink, Southern Mississippi University
Lily Herman, Wesleyan University
Aurora Stromberg, Ohio State University
Laura Bauman, University of Wisconsin-Stout