We know that a virtual placement or internship may not have been exactly how you were planning on gaining some work experience but times are changing and we can't afford to not keep up. While it's not an ideal scenario, the virtual aspect of your work environment shouldn't completely put you off. By now we know you're more than familiar with the perks of studying from home (6 cups of tea a day and snacks just a few feet away from us at all times? We love to hear it) but what about when things get a little more serious and you have a team and boss to report to? Whether you're currently part-time employed or just scouring the market, we thought we'd highlight how you can make the most of your virtual internship so that you can get that career capital and make those contacts all from the comfort of your own bed (okay maybe our first tip is to get out of bed for at least half your day...).
Form a Virtual Watering Hole
The virtual aspect of any working situation takes away the possibility to be in constant contact with either your superiors or colleagues. There's no chatting about the latest David Letterman Netflix episode (did Kim K really say her hair was $250,000?!) by the kettle or asking a team mate for help when you're stuck. That's why you have to put in that extra effort to create a virtual watering hole where you keep in touch with your coworkers. For example, ask coworkers for virtual zoom lunches so you don't have to eat by yourself or form a separate WhatsApp group with your colleagues where you can discuss day-to-day life or interesting things you might've seen that could inspire your work. It's not always easy going out of your way to reach out to people but make sure you do try, even if it's just a little, because we guarantee it'll make the whole experience that little bit more normal.
Get to Know your Tools
If your internship requires you to use certain work tools or software such as Excel, Tableau, Microsoft Teams etc, make sure to have a quick glance over them before you begin. You can use the time saved from commuting to have a browse and see if you can watch some quick tutorials or complete a few online courses that can give you an edge in the workplace. Not only will it make you feel more confident whilst using them, it'll also show your superiors how dedicated you are. Even just having a look at how the communication channels used for your virtual internship work will make those first few days a little less daunting.
Be (more) Engaged
A virtual internship makes it harder for you to stand out and create long-lasting relationships and contacts with your superiors so make sure to be even more engaged whilst online. Give your boss brief summaries of what you'll be working on during the day in the mornings or alternatively let them know what you managed to accomplish at the end of your day. Speak up and ask questions whenever there are meetings. Ask for consistent feedback on your work and performance. Add your colleagues on LinkedIn and keep up to date with their work life. Any and every effort to show your commitment to the company will be noticed and greatly appreciated so try your best to be more engaged now that everything is online.
Regardless of whether you're loving or hating the home-working aspect, the new situation requires a little bit of getting used to for everybody. Virtual internships are going to require that you put in more effort and try your best not to get overwhelmed with all the change. It goes without saying that you should also separate your work life from your home life by making sure to close your tabs at the end of the day and muting your work group chats until the morning (unless there's something urgent or a deadline coming up of course) so that you can relax afterwards. We hope you learnt how to make the most of your virtual internship and enjoyed this article. Sign up to our mailing list on the Home page in order to be one of the first to know when UniMate will be available on the App and Google Play Store and make sure to keep in touch with us on our Instagram, Facebook andTwitter to find out more student life tips and other fun content. If you enjoyed this post check out our previous post where we discussed our top tips for studying during a pandemic!