With most students studying remotely for the last few years, the prospect of taking a remote internship may be less appealing. However, with many workplaces moving to more permanent work-from-home arrangements, learning skills for working remotely is worth your time. There are ways you can make it work and impress your host organisation or employer.
Here are five ways you can stand out positively, learn, and be remembered for the right reasons.
1. Demonstrating professionalism in online meetings
Make a background computer image suited to your work or aligned with what others in the organisation are using.
Remove home distractions as much as possible and have your phone on silent during.
Do a test run to check your computer technology works.
Join team meetings a few minutes early, as you might have the chance to engage in informal conversation with colleagues.
Make eye contact with participants and smile, even if you feel nervous initially.
2. Taking initiative
Come to internal meetings prepared for the agenda and if time permits, be familiar with the profiles of those attending. An organisational chart is very handy for this purpose. Observe, but do not be afraid to share your ideas or ask questions — especially if invited to contribute.
Be prepared to introduce yourself to people you have not met, though do give the meeting's convenor the opportunity to do this first as you are not running the meeting. Practise your introduction, keep it brief and do not be afraid to show your personality. You might share with the group the nature of your internship, what course you are studying, what interests you about the organisation and what you hope to learn/contribute. Prepare as you would for your first team meeting with colleagues in person.
3. Showing your interest
Take an interest in developments taking place within the organisation/sector and always show willingness to collaborate with others and help in any way you can. This includes helping and working with other interns. Remember it is highly likely you have skills and perspectives your employer will want to utilise.
Express interest in any online training, professional development or planning sessions offered by the organisation that might be appropriate for you to attend. This may be dependent on the nature and duration of your internship.
4. Asking the right questions
Whilst showing initiative and resourcefulness is great, it is important you clarify any tasks that are unclear so you can put forward your best work. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for feedback on your work. This demonstrates interest, good judgement, and a willingness to receive constructive comments. Remember, your supervisor was in your shoes once. Show an interest in others and their work and ask them how they are — just as you would in an office setting.
5. Being proactive about catch-ups
If your supervisor hasn’t arranged a regular meeting, suggest one. You might also ask if it would be possible for you to have a brief chat with some key people working in different divisions within the organisation so that you can learn about their various roles.
In addition to providing you with the opportunity to meet people and impress, this helps to broaden your professional network and provides insights into future work opportunities that might interest you. If it is appropriate, you might connect with them on LinkedIn. Do not be offended if some staff are too busy to meet you, but do thank those who share their insights with you.
About the author
Helen is a qualified careers consultant, careers writer and professional member of the Career Development Association of Australia. She has over two decades’ experience working in senior education and career program management roles, particularly within the tertiary sector where she has assisted many students. She now runs her own careers consulting practice, Career Confident, in the South-East suburbs of Melbourne and has children at university.