• Josuel Plasencia

5 Tips for “Work From Home” Internships

Just a few months ago, you interviewed and got an internship. You got the call. You got the offer. Then came the imagination of what was to come. Commutes. Presentations. Work lunches. Happy hours (if 21 and over). Repeat.

Fast forward to today. It is gone. There is a chance that your internship will consist of a new task. Finding a background in your basement that would not be distracting, but even then, challenges might persist. Let’s not get into the fact that “papa” or “mama” will be screaming “baby, the food is ready” or “esta lista la comida, ven, ahora mismo”! 😉

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies will be transitioning their internships into virtual formats -- the virtual internship. Adding a unique twist to an experience where you are expected to perform the herculean effort of not only trying to stand out to get a return offer - but also attempt to understand if this workplace is a good fit for you.

Here are some tips to only survive but thrive during your virtual internship during the summer of 2020.

1 - Know you are not alone (goes on to weep silently) 😢

Thousands of students will no longer walk the aisle for graduation. Many had to return home from study abroad. You are not alone. While there can be a level of grief to a major life plan changing in a significant way (a throwback to canceled 5th-grade field trips), spend some time to check in with yourself and have a healthy relationship with all that is happening around us.

In the world of business, not all is under your control, and handling large and unexpected changes with ease is a life skill that will make you a better leader. And remember, checking in looks different for everyone. Sometimes it’s alright letting it loose….. We feel you.

2 - The game, the rules, and the referee are different 🕹️

With virtual internships, the game is different. You are not only being viewed by the lens of how successful an intern you are, but you will also be viewed by the lens of how adaptive you are to the virtual nature of your work. Be cognizant of that. Interns already need to work twice as hard to show they are valuable (since they are brand new to the organization and only there for a short time), now imagine if on top of that you are virtual? You need to make an effort and find creative ways to stand out. Create some magic.

3 - Have a healthy routine, whatever that means to you 💫

If you know you are not a morning person, get things done the night before. You know your brother likes to blast Bad Bunny in the afternoon. Then you might want to sit down with him because that might also be the time of your daily check-in with your manager. You don't know how to cook? Stock up on microwaveable foods or consult Youtube chefs for recipes.

A good exercise might be to sit down and write down your sleep, food, and work schedule. Monitor and adapt as needed. Simply said, take care of your “work from home” environment and routine, so you don’t end up like this.

4 - Find out if you want to swipe right or left 💙

Not all companies are made equal. Neither are all cultures. A major part of your internship is finding out if this is the place you want to be in the long-term. In a setting where there is no physical space, take advantage of virtual meetings to ask questions about the work environment and get “real” with your colleagues.

Get mentors that give you the inside scoop. In that process, you will gain a clearer understanding of whether or not you will be happy working there long-term. Think of this as virtual dating.

5 - Tech is your friend 👨‍💻️

All of your work will surround either your computer, phone, tablet, and so on. A lot will be on the internet, and this means that you need to not only understand the tools you're using but also leverage what is out there. Do you think you would benefit from a better to-do list program like Trello? Do you think wireless headphones will be helpful so you can join calls while going for a walk? Do you understand Zoom? Google Drive? Is your Wi-Fi reliable? Make sure tech is on your side this summer.

All of these are practical tips, but don’t forget what I find to be the golden rule for internships: to make your team members miss you when it’s over.

This tip applies to all internships, virtual or not. You will need to find ways where you provide value to your team in ways they had not even anticipated. This means asking a lot of questions, understanding gaps, and presenting solutions. If your team misses you when you are gone, they will want you back.