How to Navigate a Remote Internship
With many internships shifting to a remote format this summer in light of COVID-19, you may be WFH (working from home) for the foreseeable future. Unlimited snacks and a cozy couch at home might not be such a bad thing! But it can also be challenging to stay focused and engaged in your work when Netflix is so accessible. Read on to learn how to make the most of your remote summer internship and strike a healthy balance between meeting deliverables and baking banana bread.
Build structure into your internship
The flexibility that comes with remote internships can be great, but it’s also important that you treat your position like a job. Rather than rolling out of bed in the morning and logging on to your computer, carve specific hours into your schedule to work. Depending on the expectations of the company, you may consider setting aside a few hours in the morning, giving yourself a mid-day break, and then working for another few hours in the afternoon. Set clear boundaries for yourself and communicate these with your team so that you don’t burn out. Try turning your laptop off around 5 or 6pm every evening and going for a walk or cooking dinner – you’ll come back to work the next day feeling much more refreshed!
Ask for training and guidance
Even if you’re not seeing your manager or teammates everyday, you can still gain meaningful learning experiences, mentorship, and training from them. When in doubt, err on the side of over communication. Let your team know how your projects are going, ask any questions you have, and give your feedback to the team. Schedule weekly (or even daily) check-ins and come prepared to learn. A remote internship might entail more initiative on your part, but managers and teammates are typically happy to communicate and help you. You could even ask a colleague to schedule a 15-minute informational meeting where you discuss their career path and advice for you. Internships are a great opportunity to network, so make the most of your professional connections even remotely.
Find ways to motivate yourself
Working from home can be really unstructured, which might encourage mid-day naps and constant TikTok scrolling. Find ways to motivate yourself so that you’re not always reaching for your phone and checking Instagram! Boundary setting as detailed above is the first step, but also consider breaking up your time into 25-minute work chunks interspersed with 5-minute breaks to check your phone, stretch, or get a snack. You could also find an accountability partner, such as another intern or teammate, to message every now and then and check in about your work habits. When another person is holding you accountable, you’re way more likely to be productive. Put other messages in “Do Not Disturb” mode to avoid messaging temptations when you check on your partner! It’s also important to get dressed every day. If you look put-together, you will perform well and others will take you seriously. It doesn’t need to be a full make-up routine or business attire, but a quick shower and a clean shirt can go a long way. Lastly, schedule something to look forward to every evening. Whether it’s a relaxing bath, a home-cooked meal, take-out from your favorite restaurant, or a movie screening, end your day with a fun activity.
Keep track of your accomplishments
Over the course of your internship, you’re likely going to be working on a lot of different tasks and projects. Make sure to document these tasks in a spreadsheet to remember what you actually accomplished. By doing so, you can look back proudly on your work and be able to add specific achievements to your resume or easily talk about your work in future interviews. Additionally, your manager will be able to assess the success of the internship program in analyzing your productivity. Your spreadsheet to document your tasks doesn’t need to be too complicated. It can simply include the title of the project, any notes or details, the project’s deadlines, and the outcome or result of the project. Try to include numbers and quantitative data if possible, as these details will make your accomplishments more accurate and influential.
Remote internships are awesome opportunities to work from home, save money, and learn a lot! You’ll have to be proactive in making the most of your internship, but you can start by building structure into your daily routine, asking for guidance, motivating yourself, and tracking your accomplishments. Good luck, Class Trackers!