In my last article, I went over some of the steps that you can take in order to secure a virtual internship in this new normal. Now that you have that internship, or are at least close to securing it, what do you do now? To help you brave this new endeavor, here are three essential tips to not only survive in your internship, but to thrive in your internship.
- Take initiative.
First and foremost, the best thing you can do in your internship is to take initiative. Taking initiative is a great way to get what you want out of your internship opportunity, while also showing your supervisor that you have the drive to be an outgoing individual and employee. Sure, you can go through your entire internship just doing the assignments your supervisor gives you and logging your hours at the end of the week, but that would only waste your potential as an intern. Internships are as much a learning experience for you as they are a way for your site to get some help with their workload, so it is in your best interest that you work to your fullest potential. At the end of the day, the ideal internship is one that is mutually beneficial for both parties involved.
Taking initiative is a great way to get that benefit for yourself. There are many ways that you can take initiative at your internship site while also respecting the boundaries that must be observed as an intern. Some of these strategies include asking your supervisor for projects that will give you a chance to learn more about your field of interest, proposing new ideas to work on in order to be proactive rather than reactive, and offering to help with projects before your supervisor assigns them to you. Following this advice will not only help you get more out of your specific internship, but it will also show your supervisor that you are a go getter and could net you a very positive letter of recommendation once your internship comes to an end.
- Connect with your colleagues.
Now more than ever, it is important to stay in touch with everyone around us. This principle applies to your internship site as well, as your colleagues will be some of your greatest allies and supporters as you all work to succeed in this digital environment. Maintaining contact with your fellow interns is a great way to succeed in your internship as they can provide help with some of your projects, advice in how to perform specific functions within the internship site, and support in your professional (and maybe even personal) life whenever you need it.
Staying in touch with your peers at the internship will often involve active use of email and/or a video conferencing platform such as Zoom. Send an email at least once a week to some of your colleagues, whether it be an update on a project you are all working on or even just to catch up on accomplishments for the week. If you prefer a more face-to-face method during this time when face-to-face isn’t possible, then try doing the same tasks you would discuss over email during a weekly Zoom call instead. This process can be a lot more time consuming and depend on your colleagues’ schedules, so make sure to plan ahead if you want to make video conferences a regular event. Even if you don’t have the time to do weekly catchups or if you aren’t too enthusiastic about constant communication with others, sending even a short email once a week can help you stay connected with your team as you all work on your own projects. The key is simply to stay in touch so that the social network is there.
- Do your work.
I know what you’re thinking: “Why wouldn’t I do my work? Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do in an internship?” If that’s what you’re thinking, you would be right! Internships may be a great learning experience for the intern, yet that doesn’t mean there isn’t actual work that needs to be done for your internship site. Doing the projects assigned to you, as well as those you propose to take on yourself, is a vital part of the internship experience as it creates and help maintains a bond of trust between you and your supervisor and helps contribute to the larger goals of your internships sire. However, in this fully virtual internship environment, it can be quite easy to forget the projects you’re supposed to work on and that work may not get done. Small or large, project deadlines can easily sneak up on you and may tarnish your reputation with your supervisor if you are constantly forgetting to finish assignments delegated to you.
That’s why it is important to always have your responsibilities written down somewhere to ensure you won’t forget them. This can be on a planner, a calendar, a bullet journal, or anywhere you prefer that will keep your assignments organized and always in the front of your mind. Always try and start the week by outlining everything you need to do in the next seven days. If you have long-term projects that will take more than a week to finish, consider planning ahead as far as you need to ensure you stay on track. Doing this won’t guarantee that you will always get your assignments done, as we all struggle with time management and workload every once in a while, however it will keep you more organized with what you need to do every week and will significantly increase your chances of getting your tasks done on time.
These are just three of the many strategies one can follow in order to be successful in their internship, virtual or otherwise. While success is never something that is guaranteed when participating in an internship, this opportunity is ultimately what you make of it. In order to be successful as an intern, it is up to you to take the initiative and fight for what you are looking for in order to help your internship become both an educational and rewarding experience. So take that initiative and bring your fellow interns along with you for the ride, because there’s work to be done!