Illustration of two people shanking hands "virtually" through their computers


Succeeding at Virtual Internships

May 22, 2020

Given the COVID-19 pandemic, summer internships have changed dramatically, with some canceled or shortened, and others performed remotely. The Box sat down with Laurie Hollister, director of Career Services, to learn more and gather tips, advice, and strategies on specific steps students can take to succeed at their virtual summer internships.

What is the best way for students to approach a virtual internship?
Be sure to start out on the right foot and treat this remote opportunity as if you were showing up in person.

Also, carve out a comfortable, distraction-free work zone. Be sure to have a reliable Internet connection and a good pair of headphones for quality sound on calls and video conferences; take frequent breaks to hydrate and stretch; and hide alerts on text messages or whatever app distracts you, which today may be TikTok.

Does business attire apply in the virtual world?
Dress the part. You will feel more confident when you are dressed for the job—at least from the waist up! Show up in “ready-for-work attire,” and then let your supervisor tell you a more casual style is suitable.

What is the best approach for interns to interact with managers, since they can’t meet in person?
Regular check-ins with supervisors will ensure interns are on track with their work. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification when you are unsure, but group a few questions together instead of being that person that asks continuous questions.

Also, track your work. If the company does not have a preferred project management tool, choose a free one like Asana or Trello to meet deadlines and track work completed. Then create an end of week report to impress your supervisor and an end of project report without missing any important details.

How can interns virtually network with colleagues?
Make an effort to attend scheduled virtual gatherings. This is your “water-cooler” moment. Be prepared to talk about your non-work self in a professional manner. Hobbies, leadership, volunteer—think about why you stood out as a candidate and continue to impress them.

And when the internship ends?
Send thank you letters to your supervisor and the colleagues you interacted with during your internship. Ask your supervisor for an evaluation of the work you performed. Finally, ask for a LinkedIn recommendation for your digital footprint or a reference letter for your records.