The world feels like it’s on pause, but that doesn’t mean your career development options have disappeared. Companies worldwide quickly had to divert to remote opportunities, but now that you’ve landed an internship (congrats, BTW!), you’re faced with the struggle of remote communication. How often is too often to chat? Are you acting informal with your boss? What warrants an immediate email, and what can wait for the next phone or Zoom meeting?
When you’re not in the same office as your supervisor or team, it can feel harder to discern those IRL social cues that usually help you to connect and communicate effectively. So here are six tips on how to be a proactive communicator to impress your internship supervisor, and take that extra step toward success.
- Get all the details straightened out
At the very beginning of your internship, make sure you have a perfect understanding of the hourly expectations, what communication tools to use (like Slack, Asana, Trello, etc.), and when you should be available. Getting all this information up front will give you a better sense of how your supervisor prefers to communicate.
- Ask questions
Questions lead to clarifying answers, and they also signify to your boss that you’re taking the role and responsibilities seriously. Some good questions to ask at the beginning are “How available should I be online?” or “At what times are you expecting me to be on?”
If your internship has multiple supervisors, ask something like, “Who should I reach out to with questions regarding X?”
- Take notes
Organization and effective communication go hand in hand. Once you know the tools you need to learn, the hours you should be working, and your projects, create a page in your notebook or on your phone listing all of these expectations.
Working remotely can make the tasks a bit more confusing and jumbled, so this will serve as a record to look back on should you run into any miscommunications.
- Keep your fellow interns updated
If you’re a solo intern, feel free to skip to the next tip, but if you’re in a cohort, this is important.
A remote internship can make your fellow interns seem even more distant, but make it a point to bridge the divide. These people are in the same situation as you and will likely have similar responsibilities, so make sure you’re all in the loop with each other.
This mostly brings social benefits (new people to connect with on Instagram and LinkedIn), but it also means your supervisor won’t get the same question multiple times. It’ll give you a wider base of people to help you problem-solve.
- Use meeting time effectively
We’ve all seen the “this could’ve been an email” meme. Remote meetings over the phone or on video chat are sometimes even more grueling and taxing than in-person meetings, so make sure to use your time effectively by only asking questions or bringing up topics that need a full conversation to solve.
If it’s time-sensitive, reach out immediately via email or the messaging service your internship uses. If it’s a short answer, like a password mix-up, then use email. If only one person is needed to answer the question, reach out to them directly via email. This will clear up time for more extensive discussions and announcements during meetings.
- Be clear about your needs
The best way to be an effective and proactive communicator is to be open about hurdles and problems you encounter. If a project is taking you longer than you assumed it would, let your supervisor know. If something changed at your home and you can’t complete a project as soon as you planned or you can’t make a meeting, tell people immediately.
It’s much better to apologize in advance for incomplete work than to keep your supervisor in the dark and turn in something that doesn’t meet expectations.
Being an effective communicator is not something you can learn overnight. But take these tips, integrate them into your repertoire, and start building your communication habits. Your managers will be impressed by your initiative and will respect your drive! Nobody is perfect, but communicating your struggles will open the door to a better internship experience.