2020 has been full of twists, turns, and changes no one could have seen coming. For students, the ability to adapt to an online world was key. We adopted Zoom class etiquette and realized most professional opportunities would be all on our computers.
Remote internships are something I never would have imagined myself doing, but when the pandemic forced mine online, I took them in stride. Over this past summer, I completed two remote internships doing marketing work. Though it was nothing like I imagined my first internship to be, it was still an unforgettable experience. I learned about myself, my possible future careers, and most notably, how to effectively complete an internship fully online.
- Break the Ice, and Don’t Skip the Small Talk
Hopping into a virtual meeting room seems nerve-wracking, but the good news is it’s really not that awkward if you don’t let it be. Come in ready to connect with the person on the other end of the computer screen. Get to know them, ask about their weekend, or tell them how you’re feeling about the internship! This will make the job less rigid and speaks to the fact that even though you are both talking to a screen, you are still human. You want to enjoy your time, so use it to form a long-lasting connection! Talk about the work, but also get some personal anecdotes in there.
- Look Like You Want to Be There
I am a big advocate of turning your camera on during a video meeting. Use your camera, and encourage others to as well. I always entered meetings with my camera on to set a precedent of engagement. It allows you to “meet” someone better than you would during a regular phone call. And don’t forget to put effort into your appearance and background or use a nice virtual background! You don’t want to look like you just rolled out of bed for this (even if it might be true sometimes).
- Network, Network, Network
Don’t discredit the connections that may exist in the company beyond the people you’re working with directly. First, make sure you virtually meet the whole team you are on, even if you are only coordinating projects with one or two managers. Next, use LinkedIn or ask the people you already talked with to find other individuals that have experiences you’re interested in. It can’t hurt to just get the experience with these informational interviews where you ask someone what they do and how they got there. Again, you really never know where a connection could lead.
- Reach Out to Other Interns
One of the things I was really looking forward to was making new intern friends in the office. It would be exciting to share the journey and get to talk about what we were all working on. Sadly, going online makes this difficult. Many times the company will send our intern directories or emails for other interns in your local office. Take the time to email, message, and meet with them! It will come in handy when you have questions that would be better for a peer to answer.
- Ask About Staying in Touch
As your internships come to a close, make sure to mention next steps. If you would be interested in working at the company after graduation and the prospect of a full-time offer doesn’t come up naturally, ask what their hiring process is like, or mention how much you enjoyed working there. Ask where you could find open positions or if it’s okay to stay in touch for references or resume help! There are good ways to show that you are committed and loved working with the team as an intern. And when people say don’t hesitate to reach out, seriously do it!