If you are a student with a challenging schedule or limited amount of time, working as a virtual intern may be a good option. As a virtual intern, you’ll work primarily from your computer in your own setting – whether your dorm room, apartment or a corner coffee shop. In order to be successful, you’ll need to be self-motivated, organized and possess exceptional time management skills. Keep reading to see my tips for internship success in a virtual world:
Embrace online communication. Before moving forward, discuss with your employer how you can best utilize online tools such as Skype, Instant Messenger, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and other social media platforms. Check your email on a regular basis and respond in a timely manner (usually within a business day, but discuss these expectations with your supervisor). Don’t assume your employer is open or closed to any particular online outlet – always ask before jumping in.
Create a home office space. Choose a location in your living space with the fewest distractions. Your setup should be comfortable and conducive to productivity.
Set a schedule. Discuss with your supervisor the number of hours you are available to work and plan a weekly schedule that works well for both of you. Keep a planner at your desk or on your computer and track your hours each day. Or, try out an online timesheet tracking tool or app. Your hours may vary daily but trying to stick to a routine makes your job easier.
Understand your position. It is crucial that you familiarize yourself with the business and understand your role. Meet with your supervisor in person before the internship begins to learn more about the position. This will allow you to work efficiently and independently when you start your virtual internship.
Avoid distractions. During your designated work hours, turn off the television and silence your phone. Since you’ll be working at your computer, don’t fall prey to the temptation to check your personal Facebook account, text a friend, or post a few tweets. You may be at home in your pj’s but you are still on “company time”. Let your family and friends know your work schedule and encourage them to contact you at an alternate time of day.
Be a part of the team. In a virtual position it is still important to build relationships. If the company is employing several virtual interns, get their information from your supervisor. This will open up a network of assistance if you ever get stuck on a project or need advice and can’t reach your boss.
Having an internship on your resume (virtual or otherwise) will give you a competitive advantage over your peers when it’s time to interview and begin your career.