How to shine at your online internship

Eilidh Steele, Internships Manager, shares her top tips for making your mark.

Many employers, faced with the impossibility or impracticality of hosting traditional internship programmes during the coronavirus pandemic, have moved them online. These virtual internships, while clearly a different sort of  experience than you might have been expecting, will offer real benefit and opportunity. Making the most of them will call for as many or more, skills, qualities and behaviours than a traditional office-based internship.

How can you set yourself up to make the most of your virtual internship? Here’s our advice.

First of all, commit to doing a good job. Establish a structure to your day, a routine that helps you get into the work mode. Get dressed!    Don’t attempt your work duties in a distracting environment. Keep the television switched off. Swop staying in bed for sitting at a desk. If you are using your own pc or other device, make sure it’s in line with any information security guidelines laid down by your host organisation.

You’ll need to be highly motivated and organised. Without the constant supervision that an office setting provides, you must have the ability to manage your own time effectively and complete assignments without needing regular reassurance or constantly asking for assistance.

Communication won’t be constant – but it will be incredibly important. Discuss how and when you will be in contact with your supervisor and ensure you are prepared with questions or topics for discussion.  You’ll be in regular contact with your team via virtual methods such as video call, phone call, email and instant messenger. Your host company might use Skype, Slack or other messaging software, shared online documents and shared productivity tools like Trello. Be sure you check your emails/messages regularly – your manager or colleagues might be trying to get hold of you quickly.

Work hard; your manager will have regular catch-ups with you and there will be milestones in your internship for you to meet, and it will soon become clear if you’re not meeting them.  Having said that, ask for help if you need it. You might be struggling to complete a task if you don’t understand it properly, or don’t have the software or equipment to do it. Ask for help early on so your team can provide you with everything you need.

Do not let those relationships formed with your in-office co-workers suffer simply because you don’t share an office. You never know what great advice or help they may be willing to offer you, as well as what you could learn from them that may be applicable to your future at the company or with your career. Join in any online socialising such as shared virtual tea breaks. Take up opportunities to stay in touch during AND after your internship.

Online professional etiquette is really important. Don’t use emojis and gifs unless all your colleagues do and it’s part of the company culture – and even then be cautious and make sure they are suitable for work!  This advice on writing business emails on LinkedIn Learning applies whether you’re working from home or not. These articles on online meetings etiquette highlight what you need to be aware of.

Watch this LinkedIn Learning learning path for more tips on working remotely.


Coming soon: What you could do instead of an internship

And find out more about how we can support you at this time, and what you can be doing, in our FAQs and updates

(Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay)


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