October 6, 2020
2020 has been a whirlwind for all. In the senior and post-graduate worlds, both internships and jobs have been turned upside down.
As the uncertainty around COVID-19 continues, virtual internships are becoming more common than ever, with 60% of employers planning to offer them in the coming year.
While I was lucky enough to have two weeks of “normal” in the office before we transitioned to working from home, I think both my colleagues and myself would admit that this internship could be labeled as one of the weirdest in history.
As someone who’s experienced one internship in three ways (in person, virtual and hybrid), I wanted to share my tips and tricks to stay organized, build relationships with colleagues and consistently play a part in a variety of projects.
1. Stay communicative
It may be cliché, but communication truly is key – especially in a virtual work environment. One of the biggest struggles of a virtual internship, or job, is the lack of casual office conversations and employee activities. These casual conversations help build relationships, and in my experience, ultimately lead to conversations about projects and assignments; however, there are still ways to experience these conversations through programs like Teams or Slack.
My #1 tip? Don’t be afraid to schedule short meetings with your colleagues to pick their brains. This not only builds a relationship, but also helps keep you top of mind when they need help with a project.
2. Add your work projects into your planner, or a Trello board
When I first started my internship and was in the office, I kept a notebook that held my to-do list and schedule for the day. Since moving remote, I’ve transitioned to a Trello board, which is essentially a virtual white board (and a project management godsend). If you’re a visual learner like I am, it’s a great tool to help visualize and organize all of your projects.
3. Split your break in smaller increments (and make them tech-free)
One of the biggest struggles I’ve faced while working remote is increased screen-time consumption and at-home distractions. To combat this and increase my productivity, I split my break into smaller increments. My favorite (and most efficient) combination is taking two random 15-minute breaks with 30 minutes for lunch.
15-minute breaks allow you to step away from the screen and take a breather; or, accomplish a personal task, like throwing in a load of laundry or taking a walk around the block.
After weeks of mixing up how I split my break, I realized that separating it into smaller pieces not only made me feel recharged, but increased my productivity both professionally and personally.
4. Take notes of programs and platforms
As much as we probably don’t want to hear it, outside of school, taking notes is just as important! I have a work notebook filled with how-tos, step-by-steps and lists of programs and platforms I frequently use. Not only does this help you keep track of skills and programs to add to your resume, it demonstrates your initiative and gives you a reference for days where you feel like you hit a wall.
5. Document your achievements
Your future self will thank you, and your current self will be proud to look at everything you’ve accomplished. Since my projects tend to align more with our media relations practice, I have a note in my phone that lists all my media hits. It’s nice to see growth throughout your internship, and it’s great to have on hand for future endeavors.
2020 has provided everyone with the opportunity to grow. Whether you’re an intern, executive or CEO, the virtual environment is here to stay.
This is a weird time for us all – let’s make the most of it.