By Haylee Thorson
With so many internships online because of the pandemic, you might be wondering how the heck you’re supposed to succeed from the confines of your home. From countless distractions and inadequate workspaces to lack of motivation and sporadic schedules, it can often feel impossible to accomplish anything virtually. However, as someone who has been interning remotely since March, I’ve been able to pick up a few tips and tricks along the way. If you’ve found yourself struggling to work from home, fear not. Here is a list of five things you can do to help yourself get the most out of your remote internship experience.
1. Communication is Key
When you’re working from home, you must know how to properly communicate. Because you aren’t in a traditional office setting, you’re not able to casually ask your coworkers for help whenever you need clarification. While this may be difficult for some, there are so many tools out there that can make virtual communication a breeze.
Platforms like Slack—a free means of communication for businesses—allow you to get in touch with your team members within a few simple clicks. Whether you’re chatting about your latest projects or just catching up, Slack is the perfect way to maintain a sense of community during this strange time.
Video platforms like Zoom and Google Hangouts are also beneficial when interning from home because they allow you to establish real face-to-face connections with your peers. Sometimes it can be hard to only communicate through emails and messaging, so conversations via video chat are essential. Even though it may feel isolating to intern remotely, just remember that your fellow interns and supervisors are always there for you if you want to talk!
2. Create a Designated Workspace
While interning from your bed may sound appealing, it’s incredibly important to keep your work life separate from your home life. This doesn’t mean that you need your own home office or some fancy desk from Pottery Barn, it simply means that you need to find an area in your place that is dedicated solely to work. This could be a corner in the living room, a spot in front of the window, a place at the kitchen table—pretty much anywhere that is comfortable and relatively quiet.
It also helps to add a few decorative touches to your makeshift office space. This could include anything from a nicely scented candle and a few plants to a pen holder and lamp. Small elements like these will make your space feel a lot more put together and will bring you an immense sense of calm every time you sit down.
Also, be sure to only sit in this space during working hours. Because the goal of having a designated work area is to establish boundaries between your internship and personal life, you have to ensure that you’re only using this space for its intended purpose.
3. Get Yourself Ready
When you’re interning from the comfort of your own home, it can be tempting to stay in your pajamas all day. However, getting yourself ready can do wonders for your self-esteem and overall productivity.
Because you’re not in a traditional office setting, feel free to forego business casual and opt for outfits that are comfy, but cute. Sweaters, jumpsuits, and linen pants are all amazing options if you’re looking to achieve the perfect balance of comfortable and trendy. Or if you’re lazy like me, try pairing a nice top with some baggy sweatpants during your Zoom calls to look professional on the top and feel cozy on the bottom!
Aside from getting yourself dressed, make sure to take care of all your basic grooming needs as well. At the very least, brush your teeth, wash your face, and comb your hair—your body will thank you! I also find that throwing on a bit of makeup and styling my hair helps me feel more put together, but feel free to skip this step if you want.
4. Establish a Schedule
Because you aren’t interning in an office where there is a set schedule, it is up to you to create one for yourself. Having a daily routine will eliminate a lot of the stress and anxiety associated with remote work because you’ll know exactly what you’re getting yourself into every day.
When it comes to deciding which times you’re going to work, it’s important to be as consistent as possible. If you’re going to work on your assignments at 9 am one day, make sure you start around that same time the next day. That way, your body will automatically know that 9 am is work time and you’ll be able to buckle down and get things done.
It’s also crucial that you plan accordingly if you’re in school at the time of your internship. Avoid scheduling conflicts by keeping track of important due dates and meeting times through Google Calendar or a planner. Writing down everything you have going on each week will make it so much easier for you to properly allocate your time and ensure that you don’t fall behind in school or your internship.
5. Ask for Feedback
The entire point of an internship is to provide you with invaluable learning experiences. However, sometimes it can be tough to feel like you’ve reached your full potential when you’re in a remote setting—especially if it’s your first time. This is where the importance of feedback comes in.
Because you’re not in a physical place where your supervisors can come up to you and tell you how you’re doing, it’s your job to be proactive. If you want to discuss your performance, reach out to some of the people you work with and schedule a time to chat. Not only will this shed light on what your strengths and weaknesses are, but it will also show that you can take initiative.
In addition to providing clarification, feedback will also help you become a better intern. When seasoned professionals offer you advice, take it and run with it. This will only strengthen your skills and make you feel more than capable of achieving your dream job!
Haylee Thorson is an editorial writer who specializes in beauty, culture, and travel. Follow her on Instagram.