Working an internship remotely can feel intimidating. How can you shine and thrive while working from home? Here are six tips from hiring managers and current Cronkite school students on how to successfully complete a virtual internship.
1. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Communication is key in any work environment, but especially when completing a virtual internship. Students can set themselves up for success by regularly checking in with their supervisor and other members of the team. Be active on email and any chat software your company may use (such as Slack.) It's important to be patient and plan ahead - supervisors can have busy schedules! "I think it’s important to make sure you’re communicating with your supervisors earlier rather than later," says Alyssa Fuentes, a current Cronkite School student and former Phoenix Magazine virtual intern. "Communicate and don’t be so nervous that it hinders your experience.”
2. Ask Questions
Don't be afraid to ask questions. You're not expected to have all the answers, but your supervisor can't help you if they don't know you need assistance. Don't shy away from speaking up when you need help.
“The best students who get the furthest with internships are the ones who are honest and ask questions,” says Joe Huizenga, an executive producer for KTAR.
3. Hold Yourself Accountable
Distractions are aplenty when you're working from home, so it's important to create a work environment that will lead you to success. Map out your deadlines on a calendar. Create a to-do list of tasks each day you're working. Touch base with your supervisor on your progress and ask for assistance when you need it. "Don’t assume anything, and always be on your toes," says Alison Cutler, a current Cronkite Student and former Phoenix Magazine virtual intern. "Your mind is your work environment."
4. Be Flexible
Having a positive attitude will take you far in any job, but especially in a virtual internship. COVID-19 has drastically changed our working environments, and sometimes companies may make sudden changes to adapt. Be able to work on the fly.
“Be easy to work with. Be kind, have a good attitude," says Leah LeMoine, the managing editor for Phoenix Magazine.
5. Show Initiative
Employers love to see students who show initiative while completing their internships. Is there a project you'd like to be involved with? A department you'd like to learn about? A new platform you'd like to create content for? Let your supervisor know. “Make the most of [your internship]. If there was something you really wanted to do in person, just ask," says Taylor Tasler-Oatley, a current Cronkite student and former virtual intern for KTAR.
A strong network is key to landing that next job. Connect with your supervisor on LinkedIn and consider asking them for a recommendation or endorsement . Reach out to other members of the team to learn more about their roles within the company. Interested in learning more about a different part of the industry? Chances are your supervisor may know someone to connect you to.“Networking. When we’re in this virtual atmosphere; whether it’s networking with your peers or individuals that have the potential to hire you," says Huizenga. "The students need to reach out and be comfortable being uncomfortable."
To learn more, stream the full panel discussion here. This workshop was originally recorded during the 2020 Adapt & Conquer series hosted by the Cronkite School.
More About Adapt and Conquer:
Adapt and Conquer the new college and/or job market landscape with the Cronkite Career Services team and learn useful tips to help you navigate our new reality. Workshops are open to all Cronkite students and alumni, and are hosted virtually via Zoom. For a full schedule of upcoming events, visit: www.cronkitecareerservices.com/adapt-conquer