Kudos to you for landing a summer internship during this pandemic. In all fairness, we wouldn’t have held it against you if you had not. It has been a trying year and having to abruptly leave campus, many HBCU students did not even get the chance to work with career services on campus on internship applications. Many companies also pulled back their internship offers or scrapped plans for internships all together. Others, like Bank of America, quickly envisioned and deployed virtual internships.
As you jump into your virtual internships you might be asking yourself the question – What do I need to do to excel?
Know that if you do the right things and be outstanding in your virtual internship, there can be several potentially great outcomes. The big benefit of your virtual internship? You are going to build your digital skills, your communication skills and your overall time management skills. All of which will be a boost for your resume! Even in a virtual internship you will still have opportunities to build a professional network, identify mentors, leave with letters of recommendation for a job well done or even get the ultimate prize – a job offer or the opportunity to return as an intern.
To stand out and really excel in your virtual internship consider the following tips.
Take your internship seriously and treat it like it’s a real job. The fact that you are in a virtual environment does not diminish the employer’s expectations. Sometimes interns forget that these opportunities, like campus jobs, are real work that offer non-trivial real work assignments. Employers expect real input.
Impress your manager as if you were already an employee. Don’t think of yourself as ‘just” a virtual intern. Follow company guidelines especially for technology. Pay attention to company culture, dress code, virtual meeting protocols and company policies. Use time management tools.
It’s appropriate to put ideas on the table. Despite how it might appear, most companies do not have all the kinks out of virtual internship programs. If you have suggestions to improve the process, put them forward.
Use your initiative to ask for new assignments and to work on project teams. Remember, you are not in their line of sight daily, so someone might need a little prompting if you have time free to move on to the next project.
Do your best work during your internship. Ask questions to clarify assignments and work longer hours if necessary to come up to speed and get your work completed on time. Be mindful of your time during your virtual internship day.
Demonstrate your willingness to learn new things – video tools, virtual meetings, channels – and set stretch goals for yourself. Use the virtual internship to understand the business priorities for the organization especially during the pandemic.
Internships are a great way to build a professional network of people in your preferred industry. Meet people and do informational interviews to learn about career paths from people who are doing what you want to do. Set up a LinkedIn account and virtually connect with the professionals you meet. This way you can maintain these contacts well after the internship ends. It also ensures others see you as an emerging professional with interests and goals.
As your virtual internship winds down, do not be shy to ask about jobs in which you might be interested. If you excel in your internship, don’t be surprised if the employer approaches you about returning or with a potential offer for regular employment. Virtual internships can be a tremendous opportunity to get a foot in the door and find internships anywhere, but only if interns know how to really excel during the experience.