Thursday, May 28, 2020

How to Make the Most of an Internship, Even During a Pandemic

Taking on an internship is a great opportunity to get a feel for a company or industry early in your career. Nothing can replace real-world experience! But when disruptions occur, such as our current global pandemic, flexibility will become your greatest asset. As an intern, it’s your job to be curious. Transitioning your internship from in-office to remote is a great opportunity to build skills and demonstrate your commitment to growth despite unpredictable events.

While you might not be in the office to ask questions or join team meetings, there are important strategies you can embrace to stay connected, inquisitive and engaged.

Stay Organized, Stay Engaged.
Working from home can be challenging when you haven’t done it before. Staying organized is the first step to staying on top of project deadlines and demonstrating the ability to manage time. Take 10 minutes each morning to map out your day; prioritize your tasks, establish goals and block off time for meetings or webinars. By staying organized, you will be more efficient and more engaged in day-to-day tasks.

Create and Stick-to a Routine.
Going from commuting every day to working in your living room is a significant transition. However, taking the time to get ready as if you still are going to the office is key. Go for a morning walk, make your coffee and put on a new outfit. Learning how to work on a nine to five schedule solo is just as important as clocking in. Sticking to a normal routine will help you stay refreshed and focused.

Build Virtual Relationships with Coworkers.
Just because you can’t chat with coworkers in person doesn’t mean you can’t stay connected. Using online tools, like Microsoft Teams, Skype for Business or Zoom, is a great way to maintain a sense of informal communication outside of email. As an intern, you are likely one of the newest staff members. Joining virtual staff events, like Zoom happy hours, are a fun way to get to know your coworkers and talk about things outside of work. For professional development, schedule a weekly touch-base meeting with your mentor or advisor. This is a great way to check-in on projects, goals and questions during your internship

Embrace Uncertainty.
Displaying flexibility and enthusiasm will keep you on track to successfully completing your internship. Embrace the opportunity to learn new skills remotely, especially in the digital age. Adapting to a new work environment with a positive attitude demonstrates commitment and dedication to your projects, clients and coworkers. After all, this is a new experience for everyone.

Yes, And...
While your workflow may be unpredictable as the economy fluctuates, let your team and mentor know you are ready to tackle new projects. Every new assignment is an opportunity to learn about a client, an opportunity to work with new staff members and to develop new skills. Saying “yes,” even if the assignment is out of your comfort zone, will help determine your strengths and weaknesses.

While navigating uncertain times during your internship, remind yourself that with the right attitude you can grow, learn and leave a lasting impression. Especially in public relations, adapting to crisis is part of the job. Embrace new challenges during your internship and stay enthusiastic about the opportunities that lie ahead. 

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