How to Ace Your Remote Internship

May 19, 2020 The Washington Center

Working remotely can present its own share of challenges. That’s why we created this list of best practices and suggestions to help you start off strong, make a good impression and stay organized.

Dress for Success

Plan on wearing business casual attire for your first virtual meeting. This means a collared shirt with sleeves for men and a blouse with sleeves or a dress for women. While it may feel strange to get dressed up, remember you’re using your business casual attire (at least on top) to reinforce a mindset: you’re a working intern! 

Create a Workstation that Works

Prepare a workstation that is away from distractions like tv, pets and people, if possible, to allow yourself to focus. Use a real desk or a table. If your work station is located near others, use headphones to block out noise. If you are concerned about having a professional-looking space, here are some suggestions:

  • Test out your camera before any virtual meeting  and do a visual check of what can be seen around you. If you don’t like what you see, clean up your act.  
  • If you’re still worried about your backdrop, try sitting in front of a blank wall. You can also use virtual backgrounds on Zoom calls. West Elm and other websites have some you can try. Remember to keep it professional!

Establish a Routine

Wake up at the same time every day, leaving room to eat breakfast, drink coffee and prepare for the day like you would if you were going to the office. Try scheduling out your time. (example: 10-11 a.m.: work on data analysis project, 11-11:15 a.m.: coffee break, 11:30 a.m. - 12 p.m.: check-in call with boss) Be sure to build in time to take breaks, like taking a short walk when you feel yourself losing focus! 

Get to Know Your Co-Workers

Don’t be shy about introducing yourself to your co-workers to let  them know what you’re interested in, even if it’s in an email. Request a virtual “coffee” meeting with coworkers to learn more about their jobs.  You can be social in a remote setting. Offices are seeing an increase in things like virtual happy hours and book clubs. Ask your coworkers how they are staying connected and join in!

Communicate Your Needs

Keep in mind that your boss may be juggling multiple priorities, which is why it’s important to create clear expectations for communication early on. Ask your supervisor about their preferred style of communication and the best time to check-in (this is especially important if you are in different time zones). Use video chat rather than the phone when possible. If you have concerns about how you’re doing in your remote situation, ask your supervisor for feedback.Be honest about how you’re doing and what you need from your supervisor and coworkers! This new normal can be challenging and some days you might find yourself struggling. It’s OK to ask for help. 

Get Organized

Your boss may not be able to check up on you every day, but they still want to be connected. Ask your boss if they’d like regular updates on what you’re working on or an e-mail when you finish a project. Think about how you will hold yourself accountable: create a to-do list on paper or online (Trello, Asana etc.) to stay organized. Use a planner or calendar to keep track of deadlines for projects and set reminders. You’ve got this!

Good Luck on your first day, and don't hesitate to contact your Career Advisor for more advice!

About the Author

The Washington Center

The Washington Center is the largest and most established student internship program in Washington, D.C. Since our founding, we've helped more than 60,000 individuals from across the U.S. and around the globe expand their academic pursuits into rewarding jobs and careers. We use our scale and expertise to deliver solutions that open career pathways for learners, solve recruitment challenges for employers, while helping create greater access, equity, advancement and representation.

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