Were you lucky enough to land a virtual internship this summer? Or even a job amidst the COVID-19 pandemic? Are you nervous that you might not receive the experience that you desired while working virtually rather than in person? While the COVID-19 pandemic has put a hold on numerous events this year, don’t be afraid to let it stop you from pursuing an internship or a new job. While these positions may not be exactly what you expected, they are not completely different from before. This summer I completed my first virtual internship and although it was challenging at times, I am grateful for this experience as I have learned so much not only about marketing for a professional services firm, but also about myself. Here are six tips that will help you make the most out of your internship and even your future!
1. Set goals and routinely check in on your progress
Create a list of goals during the first week of your internship that includes tasks or programs that you would like to learn or accomplish. This will give insight to your manager, help align expectations of your internship program, and provide a point of reference to routinely track the progress of your goals. It is also helpful to schedule a meeting with your manager at least three weeks before the end of your internship to talk through your experience and what you’d still like to complete in your remaining weeks.
2. Make a schedule & capitalize on time management
Organization and time management are key, especially while being remote! Your manager may assign you several tasks that have various deadlines, whether they are due that day or later in that month. I have learned a lot about my time management skills which will be very helpful in a future job, and even throughout college! Each morning before I start my day, I make my to-do list on a post-it note and keep it on my desk. This helps me plan my day and keeps me on track with completing the tasks that I need to do (it is also rewarding to check off each task from my list!)
I found it helpful to flag and pin specific emails that outlined a task I needed to complete. Pinning the message sends the email to the top of your inbox, so it is easy to access whenever I needed to refer to it. While this system worked for me, everyone is different with the ways they work and how to stay organized, what’s important is that you find a system that works for you and it will pay off!
3. Overcommunicate with your manager and your co-workers
Don’t be afraid to “overcommunicate” with your manager and co-workers. This ensures others that you are online, available, and completing given tasks. I found it useful to send my manager a list of my daily accomplishments at the end of each day to inform her of the progress I made on my tasks.
On Microsoft Teams, users can see your status so they know when you are available, away, or busy on a call, which was helpful to know if it was a good time to ask a question or reach out. It was helpful to use the chat option on Microsoft Teams to ask someone a quick question, rather than waiting for a response through email. I personally loved the screen share option to learn first-hand a quick tip in InDesign or Photoshop!
4. Get involved with the office environment
I highly recommend getting to know your fellow co-workers, because they will be able to answer your questions, and you may even grow personal connections through common interests! If your company offers corporate culture virtual get-togethers like trivia or bingo, attend them so you can meet other co-workers outside of your team. You don’t always have to be serious while working with your team, so send a fun meme or gif to each other to have a laugh!
5. Most importantly, SELF CARE!!
It is important to take breaks away from staring at your computer screen for 8 hours to get up and move! Personally, I am very active, and sitting at my desk all day has been one of the biggest challenges. However, there are some ways that I have been staying active throughout the day:
- Stand up and walk around at least once every hour (I have an Apple watch and fellow users know the “Time to stand” notification)
- Walk down my block during lunch
- Take a break every so often to disconnect from the computer screen for a couple of minutes
- After work, I go for a run to keep my legs moving because after sitting for so long they feel numb (Seriously! My legs hurt from sitting for so long!)
It is important to take breaks and okay to take some time for yourself to refuel your brain and energy to put your best effort forward!!
6. Don’t hesitate to go out of your comfort zone
After only taking introductory accounting and economic business classes in college, upon starting this internship I felt very inexperienced and unsure what to expect. I was nervous I wouldn’t be able to complete the tasks given to me since I had no experience in the marketing field. However, my manager and co-workers assured me with support and assistance on certain tasks and even provided helpful insight and training. Sometimes it is good to get outside of your comfort zone, and often worth it in the end!
Final Words of Advice
Aside from these tips, the most useful thing that I have learned through this internship is the importance of staying organized and having a schedule. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and reach out to your coworkers to ask questions. I’ve learned so much more, simply by asking questions.
I am extremely grateful that I was able to complete my internship this summer. I realized my passion for expressing my ideas creatively- through graphic design, video editing, and social media. I now know that I am interested in the social media side of marketing, especially since it is a huge part of society these days. A virtual internship did not stop me from taking the risk and finding clarity in what I want to pursue in the future!
Samantha Secora is a Sophomore at Fairfield University and is currently interested in declaring a Marketing major in the fall. She pursued an internship at LAN Associates, a full-service architecture, engineering, and surveying firm. Throughout this experience she learned various components of marketing for a professional service B2B firm including social media, email marketing, video editing, graphic design, and more.