Internships. Some Whitman students may shudder at the mention of the word. It may bring back memories of endless resume and cover letter edits and a continuous saga of applications and interviews. Now it’s summer and for a few of us, even though it seems surreal, we came out of the school year with an internship to our name. Some of those internships are remote.
Now, remote internships can be tricky. You’re working with a company that you know little about and you have to find a way to understand the company culture, values, and perspectives from your remote workstation. You also have the task of understanding your supervisor’s expectations, your own capabilities, and identifying how you can learn and grow personally and professionally from this opportunity that many would dream to have.
I’m not here to tell you to schedule your time and plan out your day because those seem like the obvious bits of advice that don’t always work or are ignored the most. So, here are some tips and tricks that we hope will help you get the most out of your internship to keep you on track to having your dream career.
- Be honest with yourself.
You know yourself more than anyone else. Maybe you are a chronic procrastinator and are only productive under the pressure of deadlines. Perhaps you are good about scheduling your time but you distracted easily (maybe even by things you can justify to be work related). It could also be that you are not good with structure and perform best for short spurts of time. Take a minute to think back on your latest assignment or previous projects and identify your weaknesses. None of these traits will categorically put you on track for success or failure but if you are honest and admit to yourself what your weaknesses are, you will have a better chance of being able to overcome your own personal challenges.
- Set the scene.
Remote internships don’t have to mean you work from your living room couch. If that’s where you’re most productive, though, go for it. However, most of us who try to work from home find ourselves uninspired or distracted by our to do list outside of work that every corner of our rooms at home remind us of. Take this opportunity to discover places around you. Find a new coffee shop, downtown office building reception, museum cafeteria… get creative! When you’re ready for a work break you will have so many new things around you to explore that will refresh your mind so that you can give it your all when you sit down to do your work.
- Cleverly counteract distractions and slumps.
If you’re unable to get away from home and you know you will be distracted by other tasks, people or the many forms of entertainment that there are, plan ahead. Set reminders and notifications on your phone that will hopefully interrupt your distraction. Leave sticky notes in places that distract you the most, like on your remote control and computer keyboard.
- Prove it.
You should be learning and achieving things through your internship that you wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise. However, when your assignments and projects are task based and you’re only focused on submitting your work, you can lose sight of your growth. Sit down for 15 minutes once a week and write a list of things that you learned or did that week that you were not able to do before. If you can’t make a list or if it’s looking minuscule, let it serve as a weekly wake-up call. Approach your supervisor via email or conference call and share your concerns. The ability to recognize this independently and taking initiative to change will not go unnoticed and is sure to leave a great impression.