Virtual Internships – 6 Tips on How to make the most of them!
Due to social distancing, many internships have been adapted to virtual internships instead. Virtual internships allow you to undertake work experience with an employer digitally and remotely. This is a situation many students did not expect to find themselves in.
Starting an internship can seem daunting, but virtual internships at home can be just as intimidating. So I have compiled 6 tips from my personal experience to help you make the most of your virtual internship.
Tip 1: Arrange a virtual coffee
Networking is the process of interacting with others within the same industry to develop professional contacts. Networking early in your career will help you develop your skills, stay on top of the latest trends in your industry, meet prospective mentors/clients and gain access to resources to enhance your career development.
By networking in your internship, you will be able to meet new people, learn about their career and gain advice. Networking may seem challenging whilst working from home as there are fewer opportunities to meet someone new. However, this is not necessarily the case!
Virtual coffees are becoming a popular replacement for networking in person. Throughout your internship, you will come across many interesting people, so make sure to arrange a virtual coffee. This will display how enthusiastic you are and will help you build those key business relationships.
Additionally, this is a great opportunity to develop global relationships too by contacting people in the firm who may work in another country – virtual coffees have made it possible to interact with people regardless of location.
Tip 2: Speak to the other interns
Working from home does not mean you should not take the opportunity to get to know the other interns working alongside you. Bonding during lunchtime at the office would seem more natural, however, you can still do this whilst working at home!
Getting to know the other interns will enable you to further network, gain advice and learn about other opportunities within the firm. It also gives you the chance to provide support to one another as you are all in the same shoes.
I was able to work shadow other interns and learn about what their team is doing, exposing me to other projects in the firm. You may also be invited to more events at the firm, for example, perhaps an intern you know was able to schedule a meeting with a manager that you are also interested in.
So make sure to set regular virtual coffees with other interns. Even if you both do not continue at the same firm in the future, the industry is much smaller than it seems and you may bump into each other again! (An intern who I worked with at Goldman Sachs also interned with me at Deutsche Bank.)
Tip 3: Ask for help
Working from home, it may seem daunting to message someone asking for help on your project. However, the purpose of an internship is not only to secure a graduate job offer but to also develop yourself.
There will be many things you will not know at the beginning of your internship (this is okay!), some of them can easily be Googled but if not, then remember to reach out to your team – many people will be happy to jump on a call to help you. This will ensure that you complete your task correctly whilst also learning something new. Next time you are faced with a similar task, you will be able to complete it independently.
During my internships I have asked many questions and whilst I was afraid of annoying my managers, they were all very happy to answer them and were impressed with my enthusiasm for the task.
Additionally, ask your team for any helpful resources to aid you throughout your internship – a team member provided me with some of his notes when I was working with a new coding language I have never worked with before which really helped me work independently. You only have a few weeks at the firm so it is important to learn as much as you can.
Tip 4: A good impression still matters
Working in the office may require dressing smartly but working from home may not require wearing a suit. However, first impressions still matter whilst working from home. Notice what other people are wearing and dress accordingly. Some firms may expect you to dress in a plain shirt, whereas others are okay with t-shirts.
Additionally, minimise clutter by tidying your background as an untidy room looks unprofessional. Take notice of your body language when networking, for example, minimise slouching and touching your face. When speaking, try to communicate clearly and professionally. Small details can make a huge difference.
Tip 5: Get to know your team
Whilst there is a chance you may never get to meet your team in person, they will be the people who you will be interacting with the most, so getting to know them will help you feel more like a part of the team. They may help you build your network by informing you of key people to get in touch with to help you with what task you are doing. They will also be able to help you with any queries you may have.
Some people in your team may have done an internship previously and can support you. Others may have completed the graduate scheme and can answer questions regarding the experience. Your team can help you decide whether the firm is a good fit for you too. They will be able to provide you with feedback as your internship progresses so you know what to work on.
However, this will not be possible unless you are proactive and put the effort into getting to know them. Remember to be friendly and always thank them for their help – a little appreciation goes a long way!
Tip 6: Ask for regular feedback
For some people, this may be their first time working within their industry, so mistakes are bound to happen. Make sure to keep asking your manager for feedback on your progress, they will be able to guide you and inform you of any improvements you can make. For example, maybe they have noticed you are shy and do not contribute to weekly meetings as much, or maybe they have noticed the method you are using to solve a task is inefficient.
Finding out what you can improve early on can help you fix those issues before the end of your internship, increasing your chances of securing a graduate offer. This will not only develop yourself, but it will also demonstrate to your manager that you take feedback seriously and adapt quickly. It also demonstrates enthusiasm for the role and that you take constructive criticism professionally. A good idea is to ask your manager for a weekly slot to discuss your progress.
Whilst a virtual internship is not the same as a physical internship, they can present some unique challenges. However, they also give you the chance to demonstrate your ability to work independently and prepare you for your career. Virtual jobs are on the rise, and virtual internships are the perfect preparation for one.
Over the next few weeks I will be updating this blog with more tips regarding virtual internships.
In the meantime, do not hesitate to get in touch whether it is through my LinkedIn or my blog. If you found this blog helpful, please share it as someone you know may find it helpful too and follow @sabeekablogs on Instagram to stay up to date on the latest posts. Best of luck!