This is a guest blog post from the Career Centre. For more information about internship opportunities and where to find them, visit the Career Centre’s Participate in a co-op or internship web page and you’ll find an opportunity for you.
When the lockdown hit in March, I worried about the fate of my summer practicum at the Career Centre. Luckily, it was simply postponed, and not cancelled entirely. As summer wore on, however, I learned that it would be a remote experience. I was skeptical at first about what it would be like, but having spent nine weeks working from home, here are a few things I learned that helped me make the best of it:
Set Learning Goals for Yourself
For many internships, students are required to develop learning goals or objectives and discuss them with their supervisor to determine whether they are achievable, and if they can be accomplished within the time frame of the internship. Together with your supervisor, decide on three to five main goals you would like to achieve during your time in an internship. Once you have done this, break these goals down into smaller ones and include what action steps you will need to take to achieve them. To further help with ensuring you meet your goals, write a timeline of when you would like to achieve them by on a week-by-week basis.
Make a Schedule
After you have finalized your goals with your supervisor, you can now make a schedule. If your supervisor has given you a task structure to help you meet your learning goals, you can use this as a basis to create the schedule. Scheduling tools such as Outlook, Google Calendar, or Google Sheets can help you organize your daily and weekly tasks in a way that makes it simple to see what needs to be done. It is also a great way to keep track of your work so that by the end of your internship, you can look back and see all that you have done and achieved.
Set Up Informational Interviews with Other Staff Members
In a physical office space, meeting other co-workers tends to happen more organically, but in a remote setting, this is less likely. Making connections with the other staff can give you an opportunity to better understand their roles in the organization, and what their career journey has been like. Understanding the duties and expectations of what various roles entail is all part of the learning you will do as an intern or practicum student. Additionally, taking the initiative to meet co-workers can help you in continuing to build your network.
It is easy to feel like you might be missing out on something when doing a remote internship, however, there will be opportunities to develop skills and experience that you may otherwise not have had the chance to. For example, learning various technology platforms, communicating and presenting information in new ways, and even time management skills through learning to work from home. You also learn critical thinking and creative problem solving, through having to provide services in a new way, or solve new problems created by the current circumstances. All of these are skills that can be carried with you in to the future, and will equip you to become more effective employees in the long run.
Making the best of your remote internship starts with being proactive about your learning – this means having a clear understanding of what you would like to learn, the type of skills you would like to develop, and the specific tasks and activities that will help you develop these skills. Considering that this might be the norm for perhaps quite some time into the future, it is a good idea to start getting comfortable with the idea of remote internships. It might be a little different from what you hoped to experience in person, but the opportunities for learning and growth are still endless.
Author Alia Rajab was a practicum student at the Career Education and Development Centre. She is passionate about all things career and personal development, and believes that the key to a fulfilling life lies in knowing yourself deeply. She has lived in four different countries, and loves cats, tea, and music.