The pandemic has changed the way we work and attend school. From attending virtual lectures to job seeking, interviewing, and completing a co-op are all virtual.
A virtual internship is beneficial for many reasons: it looks great on a resume, shows you’ve made an effort to stay busy during this difficult time, and it prepares you for a career in remote-working a world. On top of this, you gain experience and networking opportunities.
So, how exactly do you make an impression when your internship or co-op is limited to connecting with co-workers through a computer screen?
Ask Questions and Take Initiative
This applies to any job but it’s more vital in a virtual setting. It’s difficult to be constantly vocal and committed in an environment where a superior is not immediately available for you. When working remotely, you have to take it upon yourself to stay engaged.
Asking questions and taking initiative is one way to do this. It’s tempting to let yourself blend into the background while working from the comfort of your home. However, this only ensures that your supervisors and co-workers forget you exist. Unlike in a physical setting, your colleagues can’t easily see who is in the room. Try your best to speak up in zoom calls and turn on your video so co-workers can recognize you too!
Remember, no question is bad and the only useless idea is one that remains unheard. So, interact over Slack, keep your mouse hovering over the microphone icon in your video calls, and share your thoughts. You want your name to be known, your voice to be heard and yourself to be seen.
Connect with Co-Workers Professionally and Personally
One word: LinkedIn. In a remote work environment, you don’t have the benefit of being in the same room as your co-workers and interacting with one another naturally. You have to put effort into it. The best and most professional way to connect is through LinkedIn. Other social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram are also acceptable if everyone is comfortable with it.
Many companies even have internal company-specific social media sites too. Join them and engage like you would on LinkedIn. You are more likely to make connections within the company and quicker.
Outside of social media, try to advertise yourself as someone co-workers can reach out to for help or a quick chat. This allows you to foster strong professional relationships while also taking advantage of leadership opportunities.
Another idea is to suggest group video calls even when working independently to emulate the feeling of working alongside one another. This will also encourage people to ask questions and talk about their work which helps everyone improve in the long run. Or even suggest a lunch zoom call!
Finally, it’s vital to unwind and join team events such as talent shows and trivia nights. This shows that you’re comfortable in your environment and allows you to connect with co-workers on a personal level which is just as important as connecting with them professionally.
Treat it Like Your Dream Job (Even if it Isn’t)
This is the last and most important tip. It’s incredibly easy to fall into the trap of treating an internship as an extension of school — a means to getting hired for a ‘real job.’ This is even easier in a virtual internship because accountability isn’t always as severe as it is in-person. But, here’s the thing: your internship is a real job and should be treated like one.
Learn to see your internship as a legitimate position and yourself as a legitimate professional. This mindset will likely pave the way for landing your real dream job in the future.
The best way to do this is to make use of the first two tips while also keeping yourself engaged, enthusiastic and motivated. Define the company’s goals and ask yourself how you can contribute. That level of dedication will reflect positively on your work ethic and help you stand out. Standing out leads to references, contacts and networking opportunities in your field. That’s the true payoff of giving your internship your all.
When you zoom out and consider the big picture all these tips boil down to being innovative, enthusiastic and hardworking which are the marks of a great employee under any circumstance.
During this difficult time, it’s becoming harder for supervisors to develop a connection with individual employees, particularly in a short-term internship. So make the effort to yourself, take the first step to develop lasting relationships with co-workers virtually.