There is a different magic to walking the halls of a new office after having walked the halls of a college. Being on the precipice of adulthood, the hint of responsibility, the world being open like an oyster — these things make an internship an exciting experience!
But unfortunately, the reality is different for new interns today. Earlier, the idea of a remote work-from-home internship was almost unthinkable. Internships were meant for exploration, growth, making new friends, finding new mentors, and finding our own space in this big, inspiring world. But now, like everything else, many first internship experiences will have to fit into a 14-inch screen.
We could tell you to look at the bright side of not having to travel in the rain to get to work, but we know that’s not what will keep your heart.
So, here’s what will make it a tad better.
Here are 7 ways of managing (read: acing) at your first work-from-home internship:
1. Set Up Your Workstation
First things first, set up your work corner and personalise it . Working from home can be very distracting, so choose a space away from the noise. Make the space unique to your style. Does nature stimulate you? Keep a plant near your desk! Planners help you stay organised, so invest in a good one.
You are in a new role; you have different responsibilities now — it’s important to be comfortable in the space you are in and focus your energy on understanding your new job .
2. Find Your Productive Window
Invest a little time in finding out when you are most productive during the day. Are you a morning person? A night owl? Do you work better after a quick nap, or can you go on without a wink? Understanding your patterns is crucial in order to be more productive and efficient at work. This will also help you plan your breaks and work schedule better.
While not everyone will work according to your schedule, knowing when you can capitalise your energy is a great way of staying in control of deadlines and maintaining efficiency.
3. Connect, Network, And Volunteer
Connecting with a superior at work can be a daunting task, we know. But here’s a little secret: they have been in your shoes! They were interns once. They were scared too, once. They probably get nervous even now. You being afraid is evidence that it matters, which will allow you to do this more sincerely. Of course, it is easier to get talking over coffee breaks and office parties. But you can make use of the virtual space equally well or even better.
Introduce yourself to your peers, immediate seniors and bosses through personal emails or professional channels on office apps
(It’s easy to forget personal and professional boundaries virtually, so be professional but friendly). Tell them why you’re here, what you can offer and what you want to learn from this experience. If there is something you’re keen on learning, offer to participate in that project. Make your efforts seen and your seniors will be elated to mentor you!
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4. Set Boundaries
We know you want to impress your boss, and you will. But take this slowly. Setting boundaries will help you navigate your way effectively and it is the need of the hour. Our personal and professional lives are getting further enmeshed due to work-from-home. This will also prevent you from falling prey to working long hours and overworking yourself.
The world at large has come to a standstill. We have spent a lot of time indoors, away from our social lives, which is taking a toll on our physical and mental health.
Make sure that you do not take up so much on your plate out of excitement, that you end up overwhelming yourself. Know your limits and don’t bite off more than you can chew.
5. Ask For Feedback
Just feeling that you’ve done a good job and turning in an assignment on time is not enough during this time. You must be able to talk about your strengths, what you need to improve on, and what career you’re inclined towards — and a great deal of this you will understand through feedback from your reporting manager. So, ask for feedback before you bid adieu. It will instill confidence in you to pursue your dreams with even more fervour.
Feedback will be a view of your strengths and weaknesses from a third person’s point of view, which will allow you to assess yourself more clearly.
Asking for feedback also shows how sincere you are towards the internship, which will strengthen your connection with your seniors. If the set-up of the hierarchy allows, you should get feedback often in a WFH set up, because a lot is lost in virtual communication. Being in touch with where you are at in terms of professional growth will make you more successful in this journey.
6. Document Your Achievements
Remember that there is no HR professional monitoring your growth and applauding you for your hard work. But that shouldn’t come in the way of you documenting your tasks and achievements. Make a note of what you do at work and where you succeed. This will benefit you in two ways: One, your reporting manager will be in loop regarding your efforts at all times, which will help you secure their trust and bigger projects in future. Two, the more aware you are of the effort you are putting in, the better reference letters you will receive .
Whatever you achieve, your work will help you build your resume and personal brand.
Performing better and growing will help you get noticed at work as well, which increases your chances of being offered a full-time role at the same organisation.
(Don’t forget to reward yourself!)
7. Ask For A Letter Of Recommendation
A persuasive letter of endorsement will not only encourage you, but will also help you go places professionally.
A glowing reference from your employers will make you a shoo-in at your next place of employment, whether internship or full-time.
With the right attitude and great work as solid backing, you will be a total catch for any organisation! These recommendations also mean a great deal if you’re looking to apply abroad for further education. That piece of paper stands for your will to chase your dreams and having what it takes to make it. So make it count!
Working from home has proven to be a pretzel-shaped act. All of us, collectively, are trying to maneuver our way around it. The virtual office is a bit more empathetic than an actual office, which is a great thing if you are starting out. The world might not be open to us right now, but the possibilities still exist. You will just have to figure out what you want from your internship, understand your grasping limits given the circumstances, and have fun while doing it! Imagine, if not for this, you would never be able to play with your pet while taking a meeting! There you go, another ray of light, just for you!
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