Building Strong Connections In A Virtual Internship

Virtual Internship Program

Building Strong Connections In A Virtual Internship

A common argument used when discussing the benefits of remote work is that establishing connections is nearly impossible through a screen. We couldn’t disagree more! Navigating the challenge of making connections during a virtual internship may seem daunting, but it’s entirely possible and easier than you might think. Building relationships virtually is not only essential for a healthy work environment, but it’s also a rewarding experience that can assist in your career journey for years and years. As the world switches to a more digital working landscape, it is imperative that you master the art of building virtual connections, sooner rather than later. Without further ado, here are some tips to help you make connections during your virtual internship.

Introduce yourself

You wouldn’t expect to make it very far in any internship, virtual or not, if you aren’t prepared to introduce yourself to your colleagues. Start off on the right foot by saying hello to and earning the name of everyone you can. Make a memorable first impression by sharing something interesting about yourself, instead of generically just saying hello. Give your new connections something to build off of! Additionally, discover where your colleagues are living, as well as where they are from (especially if you’re interning for a global company). You might be surprised to find some commonalities, like a shared state, home country, or even hometown! This can do wonders for future conservation as you now have something to go off of in the future. 

Utilize communication tools

 Likely, your virtual internship’s company will have several tools to utilize for digital communication between colleagues. Take advantage of these tools such as Slack or Teams.  You’ll need to know how to use these in order to have engaging conversations with your coworkers. Most companies have adopted some form of communication tool so it’s a good time to get familiar as well! Engage with your colleagues by asking questions, following up on their work, and sending casual messages like “good morning” and “how was your weekend?”. These easy phrases can help you enter into a conversation with a coworker. Use gifs and emojis to add a touch of fun too! In general, don’t be shy to send messages, as this is a critical first step in establishing connections during your virtual internship

Virtual Internship

Pro tip: Try bringing up something specific when talking to a coworker. When they ask how your day is, give them something to build upon other than simply replying “good”. For example, try letting them know the weather has made your day, or that you are still puzzling over the latest wordle. Give it a go and you won’t be disappointed with how easy the conversation will flow!

Arrange virtual coffee chats: 

Despite being virtual, asking someone for a virtual coffee chat is an excellent way to foster relationships. Reach out to individual colleagues and ask for a 15-minute chat to get to know them personally. Use this opportunity to discuss shared interests, seek advice, or talk about career goals. Building one-on-one relationships can enrich your work experience and contribute to your professional growth in the long term, so take advantage of the time your colleagues give you in a virtual chat. Make sure to send along a quick thank you message afterwards to really show them you appreciate their time!

Participate in meetings: 

It is imperative to establish connections and get noticed, that you talk. No floating through meetings silently with your camera off! Make sure in virtual meetings to participate actively!  Contribute by asking questions and showing interest in what others have to say. Active engagement demonstrates your engagement in your work and can help you connect with colleagues. Staying silent in meetings only tells your coworkers that you don’t need to be there, which won’t help you make connections at all. Remember to mute yourself when necessary of course, but don’t hesitate to speak up and make your presence felt. It will only help your coworkers get to know you better, and put you one step closer to building stronger connections with them. 

Join virtual social events: 

Many companies organize virtual social events like fitness classes, trivia, and games. Take part in these activities to add some fun to your workday and meet your colleagues in a relaxed setting. These social events can help create conversation in a more casual setting and will greatly help you break out of your usual more strict conversations patterns used for everyday work.  Additionally, consider joining Slack or Teams channels dedicated to specific hobbies or passions. Perhaps you enjoy crocheting? Join the crochet club! By joining a club you’ll meet people from other departments and levels in addition to your own, allowing you to be exposed to a wider range of people. It also allows you to establish connections based on shared interests! 

Follow Up

Once your internship ends, make sure to reach out to all of the wonderful connections you made. Send email thank you notes, and add those you enjoyed on LinkedIn. You never know who might have you in mind for a job someday! Additionally, as your colleagues move on to new jobs and companies, you’ll have a better chance in the future of working at one of their companies if they know you and your work ethic (which hopefully has been very strong  during your virtual internship/remote internship!) Make sure to keep in contact with these connections even after you leave the virtual internship. Send an email occasionally or catch up over coffee. These relationships are worth their weight in gold for your professional career, so the more you foster them, the more they’ll pay off down the line.

Building strong connections is an art form, one that takes time and energy to create and maintain. Don’t get discouraged if you aren’t making progress overnight. Simply be brave and reach out to your colleagues, ask them about their work, and follow up. Before you know it, you’ll have expanded your network all while gaining priceless career knowledge in the field of your dreams. So be bold, reach out, and invest time and energy in building strong connections, as the long-term benefits will be extremely worth it. Embrace the journey, enjoy the process, and watch as your professional network expands, and with it, your career opportunities expand.

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