By: Alex Leix
Over the summer, I worked as a Marketing and Communications Intern for Bohlsen Group, an Indianapolis marketing agency. I got the job in February, before COVID-19 was majorly impacting the U.S., and I was so excited to work downtown in the office come May. So when quarantine hit, and we were notified the internship would be virtual, I knew I’d have to be comfortable working from home. Along the way, I learned how to be an effective intern and make an impression without being able to work alongside my colleagues in the office. Here are five tips to help you enhance your virtual experience. Go get ‘em!
1. Communication is key. We’ve all heard this one before, but communicating with your boss is more important now than ever. Make sure to check in throughout the workday and do not be afraid to ask questions. There came a point in my internship when I asked my boss if she could go over how to navigate one of the databases we used for media relations. It had been a month since we did the training for it. After I looked over my notes from the training, I realized I just needed some help understanding how it all fit together. I was honest with her about where I was confused, and it was no big deal! We hopped on a 10-minute Zoom call to review it. It was so helpful, and I was so appreciative of her for taking the time to answer my questions.
2. Be thorough. Something I realized from the first day was that I was going to have to figure more things out myself than I would in an in-person internship. In a virtual setting, you won’t have your boss or other interns sitting next to you to bounce off questions or ideas, so it’s important to be thorough. My thoroughness allowed me to be extra prepared for meetings so they could be efficient and useful. If I wasn’t sure about a topic, I’d research it. For example, I worked on a project for a travel insurance client. I didn’t understand what all the different plans included, but I needed to in order to do the project. Never underestimate a simple Google search.
3. Create a workspace. It was important for me to create an office space because it helped me separate my leisure space from my workspace. Additionally, I made sure every morning I got ready and wore an outfit similar to something I’d wear in the office, like a casual jumpsuit. Don’t worry, no business suits here! Find something that’s comfortable but still professional enough for the office. Dress well, work well, am I right?
4. Embrace the silly side conversations. During our daily check-in meetings, we would always have random side conversations that left us laughing uncontrollably. These unplanned moments allowed me to get to know the team better, and vice versa. Getting to know the people you work with outside an office setting is crucial to growing and strengthening your network. You want the people you’re working with to remember who you are as a person, not just as an intern, especially if any opportunities come up in the future. Let your personality come through.
5. Get organized. No matter what agency, organization, or company you intern for, expect to juggle multiple tasks and projects at the same time. Write down all of your deadlines in a planner or on a to-do list. If you’ve never cared to do this before, it’s time! The agency I interned for used a project management tool on which my boss and others could set deadlines, attach documents and assign tasks. But, if your internship doesn’t use this software and your tasks are communicated to you over email for example, a good old pen and paper will be your best friend.