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Intern of the month: How to ace your virtual internship

With the pandemic came an unexpected upheaval: jobs shifted online and we were once again back home. University students now have a lot of time on our hands, opening opportunities for personal and professional skill development. With businesses and work increasingly moving online, the cornucopia of remote internships has provided prospects unparalleled. Acing remote internships is a challenge, but, with planning and commitment, you can make the best of your internship.

Set Up Your Personal Study Space

A task well begun is half done. Set up your corner and make it personal, away from the bustle of the house. Living in close quarters with your family/ flat mates can be extremely distracting, so make sure you distance yourself during your work hours. Keep your workspace a productive zone by making sure you have all your necessities at hand before sitting down for work. This will help reduce getting up too often and allow you to concentrate on the task at hand. Finally, use the space only to be productive. By avoiding eating, reading, or gaming on your desk, you associate the space only with working, which helps put you in the zone the minute you sit down.

Find Your Productive Window

All bodies function differently, and it is important to understand what your best work period is. Once you figure out your productive window, it is only a matter of capitalising on your energy and getting the best out of your day. Make a timetable on how you intend to divide your work, including ample break time. Many workaholics swear by the Pomodoro Technique, dividing the day into 25-minute chunks separated by five-minute breaks. Personally, I prefer three-hour productivity blocks, separated by one-hour breaks, since it helps reduce how often I leave my workspace.
Make sure you commit to your work schedule. Adhering to it religiously may seem like a task at first, but, soon enough, you will find yourself fitting seamlessly into your own schedule.

Write It Down

Journaling your productivity and assignments is a practice I cannot recommend enough. Making simple to-do lists and ticking it off at the end of the day gives unmatched satisfaction. Consider dividing your to-do list based on the nature of the tasks you need to complete and remember to add a column for follow-up work. Writing down deadlines next to the task helps you make a mental note of the time frame you need to work in. Personally, I like to note down a personal deadline and an official deadline, so I have a margin for editing and proofreading my work.
Journaling can be digital or hand-written, but using a cross-platform app helps keep track of your remaining tasks from anywhere. Even a simple spreadsheet can go a long way in organising your work. Sharing your journaling with your boss and peers also lets them know what you are working on now, and the progress you have made so far.

Take as Much You Can Deliver

Don’t overburden yourself with too many assignments or internships at the same time. Remember to create the perfect work-play balance, so you can fulfil your personal goals. Quality always takes precedence over quantity, so find one or two internships you can give the most to and work on them.
The pandemic is also a halt to education, and it is easy to get lost in the internship maze and lose sight of your learning goals. Remember to focus on complementing your professional development with academic growth, particularly that which translates into skill and knowledge in your profession.

Don’t Be Afraid to Connect

A key challenge with remote internships is the limited interaction you have with your colleagues and boss. Take an initiative to connect with your peers, and schedule one-on-ones with them to build a personal rapport. Informal calls also go a long way in making you comfortable with your team. Most work spaces also have collaboration spaces like Slack or Microsoft Teams. Don’t hesitate to be proactive on these platforms as you may come across exposure-providing opportunities outside your job role.
Your boss or team leader will be more than happy to help you perform your best. Ask them questions relating to your assignments, or even what they do. Most importantly, be confident to say what you feel, and voice your opinion in a constructive way. A good connection with your seniors is a stepping stone to upgrading your skills, and helps you deliver along the lines of what they expect.

Keep Learning!

Look for opportunities that may come your way, directly or indirectly. Even if a task at hand isn’t in your department, try to volunteer for it, and you may come out of it with a new skill. Instead of just asking for work, ask for specific, tangible tasks. Treat it like a passion, and you will come out of your internship more equipped and wiser.

In a recent survey, 45% of people singled out that having the flexibility to do other things is the most significant advantage of working from home. Complementing the above tips with a healthy lifestyle and a love for the work you do can help you be your most productive self and make you a force to be reckoned with at the workplace.

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