Life&Style writer Anastasis Mauriac gives advice on how to make the most of your virtual summer internship
Congratulations for getting an internship! I have a few pieces of advice on how to make the most out of your virtual summer internship.
Depending on your preferences, I would advise you to choose in advance when to start working in the day. I recently started a virtual internship and made the mistake of starting late in the afternoon on my first day. It was very hot, and I was very tired so the task was hard to finish. Being in a completely different location with no schedule felt a bit disorientating. I regretted not starting in the morning, because it would have given me a sense of accomplishment and normality like an in-person internship would have. I would have also avoided the slight feeling of guilt. However, I also really appreciated the freedom of being able to choose when I started rather than being given a time. I am now slowly switching to morning sessions. Now I feel productive and can enjoy the rest of the day guilt free.
My second piece of advice would be to keep regular contact with your supervisor and team members. Especially for virtual internships, it can feel odd working for a company whilst being in a completely different environment. This summer I am working for an NGO based in the Republic Democratic of Congo whilst being on holiday in the French Alps. I can sometimes feel disconnected from the work I have to produce. However, being in regular contact with my supervisor is very helpful. His regular texts or emails remind me of the work I have to do, and helps me ground myself in the mindset of the internship.
What I found very useful was to communicate my expectations for the internship early on. I am lucky that the NGO I work for is very open to helping me get the skills and training I want. Other companies might have a strict schedule and tasks that you are assigned to. In that case, you can just follow the tasks you are given, and try to mention your expectations during an informal meeting with your supervisor. I would also recommend creating a list for yourself of the skills you want to gain, so that you can keep them in mind when producing your work.
In my case, I found this flexibility problematic. I found that the tasks I was given were a bit too broad, and there was a clear lack of structure. Thus, I tried to be proactive and I asked for smaller tasks with specific goals. I also sent out an email detailing some skills or tasks I wanted to gain or undertake during my internship.
Receiving detailed feedback is useful for a number of reasons. It can be a confidence boost when the work done does not require many changes, but it can also help you improve your method for your next piece of work. It enables you to better understand what the company’s expectations are, and helps you structure your work better.
I received my first assignment at the beginning of my first week. Because it was very broad, I was unsure what the end result was supposed to look like. I had to read six reports, summarise them, and identify their key strengths and weaknesses, before suggesting ways for improvements and how to attract donors. I had never done that before, and having no experience of how to attract donors I was a bit confused. I did my best, and when submitting my work, I asked for feedback. In order to make sure they would provide detailed feedbacks, I added four questions to guide them:
1) Is the assignment I produced what you expected of me?
2) What areas should I improve?
3) Are there areas I forgot to touch on?
4) are you requiring me to do some research on how to attract donors, or are you looking for spontaneous ideas from me?
With these questions, I was sure that I could receive the level of detail I knew I needed.
My last tip is to add your supervisor and team members on LinkedIn. They might be useful contacts to have for your future career, and it is an easy way for you to stay in touch with them. You can also write a post for your LinkedIn profile announcing the start of your internship. Do not forget to tag your company and supervisor. This increases the visibility and professional quality of your profile, alongside your supervisor’s and company’s profiles. Nowadays, a lot of companies are recruiting on LinkedIn as your profile represents a digital CV. Also, adding an internship to your profile makes it stand out!
I hope you found my advice useful. Once again, congratulations for obtaining a summer internship! Do not forget to rest and enjoy your summer holidays on the weekend!
Read more from Life&Style here:
Guide to: Budgeting Your Money Successfully
My Experience: Friendships at University