It is a fact that the current COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted everyone’s lives. The greater disruption done, however, was to our children and youth who have been confined to the home, struggling to get the same high-quality education that they were obtaining in school via online learning. Now, with the Work From Home (WFH) Movement in full swing, those who are about to graduate and ready to enter the workforce are wondering if they could get valuable work experience through virtual or WFH internships. Can these internships also lead to full time employment?
What are WFH or Virtual Internships?
WFH internships are programs offered by companies wherein upcoming or fresh graduates can obtain professional and practical work experience in remote settings. These internships are actually the same as in-office internships except that all the work to be done by the intern will be in the comfort of their homes or other remote location instead of the company’s office/s.
Just like full time employees who were placed on WFH status, interns don’t have to endure the long commute to and from the workplace. All communication is conducted virtually, through phone calls, email, online chat, and video conferencing. They also get to enjoy a flexible work schedule.
However, interns ask if it is possible to succeed in WFH internships and hopefully land a job with the company?
10 Things You Need To Know To Succeed in WFH Internships
Let’s take a look at the 10 ways by which you can succeed in a WFH internship!
1) Make early preparations
Before you begin with your WFH internship, you should already make early preparations. First among these preparations is learning everything you can about the company you will be working for. Learn more about the company leaders and some of the people that you might be working with via staff biographies, company culture, their preferred communication styles, and their expectations from you. You can learn these things from the internship program director, who can further inform you about the goals that they want you to achieve as well as their evaluation and feedback processes. Request a copy of the company handbook if the program director can provide you with it.
Second, you should get your home ready for your internship. This means having a space or room in the home with all the devices and tools you need, such as a laptop with good internet connection, smartphone, etc. Make sure that you also have the required company software and VPN to ensure security. Consider speaking to family members before hand so that they don’t disturb you during your working hours.
2) Observe a regular schedule
While WFH internships allows you to choose a flexible schedule wherein you are most productive, make sure that you would maintain a regular in-office schedule. For example, if you have an 11 am to 7 pm work schedule, make it a point to log in on time with your internship program manager or director.
3) Manage your time wisely
For employers, a flexible schedule allows them to test their interns on their time management and self-discipline skills. For example, if for some reason you are unable to meet the work schedule due to family or other personal issues, you can adjust your schedule for the number of hours that you need to fulfill. Let’s say you need to bring your sibling to a doctor’s appointment and you were stuck in the clinic for two hours. At an 11 am to 7 pm sked, you can extend your work hours to 9 pm.
Part of time management is being able to meet deadlines and be aware of and attend scheduled meetings and calendar invites.
4) Maintain communication
Make it a point to always stay in touch with people in the company, whether its through email, text, phone call, or video conference. It is wise to ask your bosses and colleagues what specific communication channels they prefer. Ask about their available times. In the same vein, you should also emphasize that you prefer to receive communication within your working hours. So that they can better assess your work, you can start your work week by inquiring about projects that you need to accomplish for the week. At the end of the work week, you can submit a summary of your accomplished work to your manager.
5) Connect with your fellow interns
Forging connections with fellow interns allow you to learn more about company expectations through their experiences. In addition, your co-interns can serve as your support and motivation during difficult times at work.
6) Practice networking
Don’t just limit your connections with your fellow interns. Instead, branch out through networking. Forge good working relationships with bosses and full-time employees you work well with. Connect with vendors and clients. You can use LinkedIn and similar platforms to digitally connect with people and grow your professional network. Having these connections will not only look good in your resume, but these individuals can help you through your internship by providing valuable advice and feedback.
7) Be bold and share your ideas
A lot of students and graduates have experienced making coffee, running errands, or taking meeting notes for their bosses. This is no longer the case with virtual internships. Instead, you will be expected to perform and participate in important company meetings and tasks. When given the opportunity to do so, be bold and present your ideas and suggestions.
8) Always ask for help when needed
As an intern, you might feel intimidated to ask for help from your bosses or fulltime employees. If you are having problems fulfilling tasks, have difficulties in time management, or are experiencing distractions, the first person to approach will be the internship director or supervisor. By bringing up these matters to them, you exhibit professional maturity and they would be more than happy to help you deal with these issues.
9) Always be patient
Because of the current trend of remote work, it is possible that you will be working with other virtual workers as well. Expect early on that they have different work schedules from you. Don’t expect them to respond immediately to your emails or requests for chat or video call. Instead, be patient and wait for them to respond. The better solution would be to ask the best time when you can get in touch with them.
10) Whenever possible, meet with everyone in person
Virtual internships don’t mean that you will remain cooped up in your home. Whenever opportunities arise to meet your bosses, employees, and fellow interns in person, seize them. It can be at a face-to-face meeting or if they invite you out for lunch or a quick coffee break, especially if your home is near the office. In-person meetings can help forge stronger and deeper relationships within the company.
As you can see from our tips above, it is possible for you to succeed in WFH internships. Not only can you be able to get a full-time job at your company of choice, but you also can forge fruitful networks can help in your professional growth.