29 Aug Top 5 Mistakes to Avoid for a Successful Remote Internships Journey
Remote work is a hot topic as of late sparking a wide range of opinions about the virtual office space. Some believe it to be a revolutionary step toward workers rights and freedom while others think it is a terrible way of keeping up office culture.
Regardless of how you feel, one thing is certain: it isn’t going anywhere. For those fresh to the work world such as college aged students, this means they will very likely work remotely at some point in their careers. The best way for young professionals to prepare is through a virtual internship. But in order to succeed, you’ll need to know what to avoid. Here are the top 5 mistakes to avoid for a successful remote internship.
Virtual Internships can sound like an absolute dream to young interns looking for a relaxed way to earn experience. Without anyone looking over your shoulder you can relax and settle into your work in a more comfortable environment. But don’t let that get to your head!
While a virtual internship will create a more relaxed atmosphere, professionalism should never be forgotten. Dressing too casually (leave your pajamas out of it!) can leave a negative impression on colleagues and superiors. It also can impact your own ability to be productive as you confuse relaxation time with work time. It’s important to remember that this virtual internship is what you make of it, so dress in a comfortable and professional manner, stay off your phone, and concentrate when you’re on the clock in order to get the most out of your time.
Remain polite and focused on video calls, maintain a professional tone in emails and slack messages, and stick to your deadlines. This isn’t university, it’s the real world! Don’t slack off and you’ll leave a positive impact that will follow you in your career.
Poor Time Management
Working a virtual internship demands the intern develop a healthy dose of self- discipline and time management in order to keep themselves on track. It can be extremely easy to be distracted when no one is watching, and personal and professional life can easily blend together. It’s critical that interns develop for themselves a schedule and stick to it. They should develop a schedule that includes breaks, dedicated working times, and personal time. Perhaps there is a specific hour of the day they take to walk away from the computer and eat, stretch etc.
There are also plenty of time management techniques and tools the intern can use in order to stay laser focused such as the Pomodoro Technique. This technique can help prevent burnout by giving the user set breaks. Overall, it’s important for interns to be realistic and reasonable with themselves in order to achieve their workplace goals while staying motivated…which brings us to our next point.
Not Setting Goals
It can be way too easy during a virtual internship to get overwhelmed by all that needs doing in a day. When it’s all in your head and not visually laid out before you, you may feel as if you have a mountain of never ending work that you’re desperately trying to keep in your grasp.
By writing out all that needs to be accomplished each day, and slowly knocking them out one by one, you solve 90% of this overwhelm. For many virtual interns, they fall into the trap of simply going with the flow instead of giving themselves clear goals and expectations of what they will accomplish each day.
Interns should work with their supervisor to set and outline objectives and expectations for the duration of their internship. Not only will this help them track their own progress but it also ensures that both sides of the virtual internship know what to expect and are on the same page regarding desired outcome. Routinely revisit these goals and you will be sure to stay focused and motivated throughout your internship!
Learning how to utilize digital communication channels is absolutely critical during your virtual internship. Don’t try to coast without it! One of the most challenging aspects of a virtual internship is navigating communication, but once you’ve got it, it’ll make your life significantly easier.
With in person internships, interns cannot rely on casual office chat to get to know those around them. Instead they must work double hard to find the best ways to stay on track with others, receive feedback and understand their responsibilities.
In order to have a successful experience, make sure to reach out to team members often either through email or whatever the method of remote communication the company utilizes such as teams or slack.
By participating in virtual meetings, responding to messages/emails, and asking for help/clarification, interns can avoid most virtual internship sins right off the bat! If your supervisor doesn’t offer them, schedule routine check-ins or 1:1’s in order to maintain a strong line of communication throughout your virtual internship.
Ignoring Networking Opps
Often, virtual interns assume that by working remotely they cannot possibly establish connections as good as the ones they may have been able to form in person. Wrong! One of the largest benefits of an internship is the lasting relationships and connections received out of it.
So whether in person or not, it is the interns responsibility to forge and foster these connections! Reach out to coworkers over Slack or Teams and get to know them. Ask about their work and show interest. Follow up introductions with a LinkedIn connection and interns may just find themselves with someone to reach out to someday if they are ever seeking employment.
Those embarking on a virtual internship should actively seek out opportunities to get to know their colleagues through virtual coffee chats, or online events. Virtual coffee chats can be a great way to explore various roles and pathways towards future careers in a low stakes enjoyable way.
By avoiding these mistakes, interns can better prepare to absolutely knock the socks off of their internship employer and will maximize the success and outcome of the work they did.