Around this time of year, students are typically used to securing summer internships, strengthening their skills, meeting new people, and adding work experience to polish their resume. Due to the coronavirus, U.S. internship openings are down, making both existing students and graduates scrambling to make sense of our current world while trying to plan their next steps at the same time.
Though a virtual internship is not as exciting as a physical one, a virtual internship can still give you the experience, workplace connections, and potential new opportunities without the complications of commuting or being in a physical office. While the idea of virtual internships may seem like a piece of cake, there are still several things you must do regardless if you are sitting behind a screen or in an office.
Are you a college student or recent graduate that has been affected by the coronavirus? Looking for ways to stand out and catch the eye of your boss? These top five tips will give you an idea of simple, yet effective steps to take in order to make the most of your virtual internship!
Understand the Expectations
Having a well-rounded, clear knowledge of the expectations of your position is key to making an internship successful, especially a virtual internship. Due to the fact that virtual internships rely heavily on communication and less on demonstrations or presentations, it is important to communicate with your boss what he/she expects of you while you are interning with them. What methods of communication should you use most frequently? How should you engage in meetings? What level of influence do you have in certain projects or tasks? These are all necessary topics to address with your employer so you can fulfill the position to the best of your ability.
Be Observant Now More Than Ever
Sure, an internship is important because of the potential work connection that can line up in the future, however, one significant aspect that makes an internship so impactful is the experience and knowledge you obtain through your duration as an intern. With a virtual internship, being observant is incredibly necessary now more than ever. What do I mean by being observant? So much of interning is less about working and more about learning, so learning the ins and outs of your workplace and picking up on different details will give you help you stand out while giving you wisdom at the same time.
Work on Building Relationships/Networking
Alongside your experience, there may be nothing more important in an internship than the connections you make and the networking you do. In a virtual internship, networking will be more difficult, as the responsibility or ‘burden’ of putting yourself out there to make such connections falls onto you. Consider reaching out to your employer to inquire about people who could help succeed, build upon your skills, or reach your goals. Meeting with specific coworkers for a one-on-one conversation about their values, work ethic, journey to their current position, etc. can not only be valuable for you, but it can also help you build meaningful connections that can last far after your virtual internship is over.
Go to the Virtual Meetings, Especially with Camera On
When in a physical work environment, there really is no avoiding the daily or weekly work meeting held by your employer for your office. With a virtual internship, skipping out on those work meetings is easier to get away with, but that doesn’t mean that your actions go unnoticed. Again, attending the meetings gives your boss the impression that you are dedicated to learning, being present, and engaging with the company, whether you are able to be physically present or not.
Make an Effort to Engage with Coworkers Outside of Work Meetings
This cannot be stressed enough: connections made during internships are/can be some of the most important ones you make in your career. In terms of virtual internships, talking with coworkers through work meetings is great, but it is also limiting in ways. After the conclusion of a work meeting, consider ‘hanging out’ with a coworker and connecting on life, not work. What are their favorite quarantine tv shows to watch? What dinner are they making with food from their pantry? By asking these seemingly silly questions shows them you want to build on things outside of your work, that you don’t just see them as a coworker, but as a person. This is something that they will remember in the long run!