An internship can be a critical juncture in your career. It may be one of the first times that you have moved out of the classroom into the workplace, and it will require you to put the skills that you have learned to use in the real world. While it is always important to ace an internship, doing so may seem a little more difficult if your internship is virtual. Virtual internships are an admittedly new development, but they can still be just as important to your career trajectory. Here are four tips to help you ace your virtual internship:
Conduct thorough research
Before your internship begins, conduct some research—learn all that you can about the organization that you will be working for in order to truly understand its mission and its product or service. Since you will not be in an office environment, you may feel alienated during your virtual internship, but learning more about the work you are part of can offset this impression. It can also better equip you for any tasks you are given.
Emphasize communication and networking
The opportunity to network is often one of the most valuable advantages of an internship. It is also one of the most valuable advantages of a virtual internship, but it may require a bit more effort on your part. Again, start before your internship officially begins by reaching out to your supervisors, and to any other important contacts in your department. If possible, meet with them face-to-face at least once, or participate in a video chat to learn more about them and their work. Schedule several video chats throughout your internship to check in and to ensure that you are on track. You will also likely communicate with your supervisor via email. If there are any other employees who you believe could be important contacts for you, reaching out over email can be a great way to introduce yourself.
Manage your time effectively
With a virtual internship, you will not have a supervisor’s physical presence to keep you on task. Regardless, it is still important to complete your work in a timely manner. Do not let distractions (like Facebook or Twitter) tempt you; treat your time at work seriously. If the tasks that you are given do not keep you busy for long, ask for more work, as this will impress your supervisor. Most important, do not ever miss a deadline or leave a task unfinished.
Create a professional environment
Even if you are not in a traditional office environment, you should still make an effort to dress professionally. If it motivates you, you can even work at a library or coffee shop. You should also set up an area of your apartment, dorm, or house that will serve as your office. In short, even if you are not physically in an office, you should feel like you are at work—this is even more critical if you will have video chats with clients or colleagues.
Ultimately, acing a virtual internship is not so different from acing a traditional internship. It is important to be prepared, professional, and proactive. Do your work well, communicate as much as possible, and you should thrive in your virtual internship.
Catherine Martin is a contributing writer for UniversityTutor.com, the world’s largest global marketplace for finding independent tutors.