My name’s Liam, and I’ve spent the last couple months working remotely as an intern for the New Zealand-based non-profit Skylight Trust. I learned so much about how to work remotely across cultures the past few months and I wanted to share with you all my 5 virtual internship success tips! Did I mention that they’re all lessons I originally learned from Winnie the Pooh characters?!
My top 5 virtual internship success tips:
Here’s a quick round-up of my virtual internship success tips for you. They’re easy to remember when you tie each to a character from Winnie the Pooh.
1: Don’t stress the uncontrollables.
Sometimes your internet connection fails. Sometimes you can’t get your camera working, or your headphones won’t connect. Sometimes navigating time differences can lead to missed calls and confusion. I was worried about these sorts of uncontrollables and that worry got in the way of connecting with the organization I was working for and the work I was doing.
I felt like Piglet: apprehensive and scared that any Zoom mistakes would sabotage my internship experience.
These hiccups are an inevitable part of the online internship experience, so don’t waste your energy worrying about the little things. Stay persistent, stay positive, and try to become comfortable addressing tech mishaps.
That being said…
2: Come prepared!
Be prepared to accommodate an online style of internship as best you can. Learn how to use the most common video chatting platforms so you’re ready to work with your internship host immediately (Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts, etc.).
Have a quiet space you can work in, a working microphone, and a reliable internet connection. The more you can prepare yourself as a competent, knowledgeable tech user, the more productive and easy-to-work-with you’ll be.
Be like Rabbit: Have a plan for what mistakes might pop up during the experience. You’ll never be caught off guard.
3: Be kind to yourself.
This is a difficult time to focus on an internship. Many people have lost their jobs, experienced the death of family and friends, and spent the majority of time isolated in their homes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, recent protests over police violence and systemic racism have impacted cities and communities across the country.
Recognize that coping with these feelings will influence your internship. Give yourself the time you need to process your emotions in a positive manner and be kind to yourself if some days you feel unmotivated or unable to work productively.
Be like Eeyore: He focuses on the positive parts of life even when he’s feeling down, and knows when he needs time alone.
4: Stay excited!
Once you’ve chosen an internship you’re excited about, stay engaged with it. Ask questions, take on projects, and try to get as involved as possible.
Being stuck in your house for months can be a drag, but having a virtual internship keeps you busy and interested. Remind yourself why you chose this internship in the first place. How does it align with your interests? What about it motivates you?
This excitement and passion will not only make you a productive intern for any organization, but will make your experience much more rewarding as well.
Tigger is passionate and excited about everything, from learning the Whoopty-Dooper-Loopty-Looper-Alley-Ooper bounce, to his friendship with Pooh. Be like Tigger: Engage and have fun with it.
5: Build those connections.
The last virtual internship success tip I have for you today is to focus on building connections.
Even though forming connections online can be hard, especially when you haven’t met the people you’re working with or visited the organization in person, do your best to connect. Take some time at the beginning or end of a meeting to ask some personal questions beyond intern duties.
Take a genuine interest in the people you’re working with, and they’ll notice. Connecting builds trust, communication, and friendship.
Winnie the Pooh, despite his mistakes and shortcomings, is the glue that holds the Hundred Acre Wood and its inhabitants together. Pooh is endlessly optimistic and supportive of his friends, and that’s what makes him so darn likeable.
So now, go forth into the unknown world of virtual internships, and remember the teachings of Winnie the Pooh that you got from my virtual internship success tips!
Bonus! A little about my internship
Skylight Trust is an organization that helps individuals and families navigate loss, grief, and other mental health issues. Skylight provides online resources, counseling, training, and community support. During my internship, I’ve created wireframes, curated content, and designed web pages for Skylight.
Here’s an example of a web page skeleton I designed.
Here’s a slide from a presentation of mine on web content.