The global pandemic has ushered in an era of remote work, but not all employees are fans of a virtual office. Recent research from Glassdoor found that 70% of interns view remote work negatively, citing difficulty in communication and collaboration in a wholly digital environment.
Remote roles can be challenging, particularly for first-time employees eager to learn the ins and outs of the workplace. They’re also, for better or worse, a way of life post-pandemic. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, only 25.8% of employers plan on holding internships exclusively in person in 2021-22. (A near majority are planning hybrid roles.)
So how can you stand out (and get ahead) if you find yourself in a hybrid or fully remote internship?
The short answer: “Do a little bit more,” Elisa Pineda, senior recruiter at Forage, says. Here are six ways to get noticed while working at a remote internship.
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In other words, don’t be shy. Instead, proactively provide updates on your ongoing projects via Slack or email. Offer to take notes and recap meetings. Ask questions regularly and start a shared document for agenda items for your one-on-ones.
By leaning toward overcommunicating, “you’re reaching out to different areas of the company and not only gaining their perspective, you’re gaining exposure,” Forage recruitment coordinator Robert Sabori says.
You’re also developing an essential soft skill you can feature on your resume. Beyond that, your ability to communicate effectively will come in handy in future positions.
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2. Ask to Attend Meetings
Even remote meetings are a great way to get face-time with executives, senior leaders, and teammates. They’re also an excellent opportunity to learn about other departments, their particular functions, and how they might intersect with your area of responsibility.
So, consider asking for invites to meetings you don’t regularly attend, but believe will be beneficial, Pineda suggests.
You can sit in the (virtual) background, take notes, and, later, ask questions of your manager. Or, if you’re so inclined, participate in the discussion.
3. Share Your Ideas
In most settings, you should feel empowered to share ideas you feel strongly about, or suspect could impact the company.
After all, “you’re a fresh outlook on what someone has been probably looking at for awhile,” Pineda explains.
There’s a chance that management could champion or implement your ideas, but even if they don’t, you’ll collect valuable data and feedback to hone future pitches.
>>MORE: Learn how to give a great elevator pitch (with examples).
Ultimately, Pineda says, your aim is for your employer to ask: If the intern can do this here, what can they do when they have full capacity?
4. Request Feedback
Remote internships are meant to be great learning experiences. However, “sometimes, people don’t give [you feedback] right away,” Sabori says. If that’s the case, you’ll want to get proactive.
Consider asking for feedback from not just your direct manager but your manager’s manager, teammates, and other department members. To get more specific feedback — and to keep the task manageable for those you are tapping — consider asking for one thing they’d like you to start doing, one thing they’d like you to stop doing, and one thing they’d like to see you continue doing in your role.
By asking for feedback, “you’re showcasing that you are willing to grow and learn and that you want to be part of the team,” Sabori says.
You could even find a mentor who can continue to coach you throughout your career.
5. Join Digital Social Settings …
Many companies have introduced mechanisms to increase employee engagement in increasingly digital environments. For instance, you might find designated Slack channels for sharing pet pictures, book recommendations, or creative inspiration. Join the ones you are genuinely interested in and participate in some virtual “watercooler” conversations.
LinkedIn groups in your field are a great way for remote interns to start developing external connections.
“You get those alerts and can start networking,” Pineda says.
6. … or Offer to Set up New Ones
If your company is short on virtual team-building initiatives, ask if you can spearhead one. For instance, suggest using the Slack integration Donut if your company doesn’t currently have a mechanism for organizing virtual coffees or meet-ups, Sabori says.
Remote interns can also consider:
- Starting a new company (SFW!) Slack channel
- Creating a LinkedIn group for all of the company’s interns
- Suggesting diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives they would like to see the company offer to their direct manager or human resources representative
Don’t love your current role? Here are five ways you can turn an internship you dislike into a great learning experience.
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