Quarantine has raised a lot of new and unique questions amongst University students in regards to internships and jobs. Though internships are sought out as an effective bridge between coursework and real-life work experience, the sudden transition to remote internships and work has confronted students with many new concerns and unfamiliar situations. Above all, students are susceptible to missing out on great opportunities due to persistent myths about remote internships. These misconceptions may well cause you to lose a competitive advantage by not challenging yourself with learning unique skills tied to working from home.
The reality of this global pandemic is the influx of companies resorting to remotely onboarding their interns, so understanding how the following myths can easily be debunked, will motivate you to seize more opportunities. Working in your pyjamas from bed with your fridge in arms reach might sound like a dream job experience but there is much more beneath the surface which you should acknowledge. Work is work, regardless of the circumstances – so untrue notions about remote internships need to be recognised because this work environment still presents a unique set of challenges you shouldn’t overlook.
This is a major assumption many students associate with interning from home. Your work flexibility is dependent on your own capability to manage your own time and organise your schedule. While it may be true, you can choose when you can do certain aspects of your work, you are still obligated to respect office hours when your co-workers are active and likely to rely on your productivity. Don’t forget your supervisors, mentors and managers are on duty during their traditional work hours and are expecting your presence to be monitored. Your schedule must coincide with these colleagues for the business to effectively and efficiently operate and for workstreams to be aligned amongst staff.
So whilst you’ll notice a little more leniency with your work hours, it doesn’t mean you should throw your work papers up in the air, take a trip to the beach whenever you feel like it and do the work when you get home at 9pm.
Any role undergone by an intern, needs to be done during operating hours. Peak productivity and business traffic hours are during mornings and early afternoons so you definitely shouldn’t leave your work until the last couple hours of every night. Considering if you can manage to leave your work until 3am, it is proven that the quality of your work will not be as great as that of your morning/afternoon work.
Technically, yes. But for the benefit of your work and energy, it is recommended to set up a tidy, organised and well-lit office to keep up your motivation and productivity. Remote interns will constantly be given work assignments and virtual errands to complete by managers, so staying in bed, where you would typically take breaks and naps, is not the best environment to fuel your drive to work. Just because you can, does not mean you should…
Taking the extra few steps from your bed to a table takes no effort and you’ll be thankful for it in the future when you’ve still got your amazing posture and discipline. Additionally, an office space makes it much easier to store and file papers, conduct meetings and utilise a sturdy, expansive work desk. Consider it a change of scenery.
While you won’t be hearing any loud conversations, ringing office phones and constant keyboard typing across the cubicles in an office building, there are equally challenging distractions and inconveniences to be faced with at home. Some perks reign true- you can get away with taking breaks when you need them, you can set on the comfy sofa in your lounge room instead of hard office chairs, and you won’t have to worry about someone ‘accidentally’ taking your lunch from the staff fridge. However, you’re also bestowed a lot more autonomy and accountability over your work – so your discipline and determination need to be cramped up significantly. A few sneaky Instagram breaks might lead to an hour of scrolling, and leave you an hour behind on your deadlines. Stay organised, focused and you’ll be on track to complete all your work on schedule, just as you would in a traditional office setting. Remote internships may be especially challenging if you don’t teach yourself to balance your university work and placement work; to get your projects done on time, do not take the leniency of remote work for granted, and space out your timetable to accommodate for distractions.
The transition from studying at school to entering the workforce as an intern can be very daunting without making the right connections and expansive professional networks. For this reason, remote interns may think remote placements = low social interactions; and this myth can be especially difficult to overcome. But fear not! Many employers are aware of this and remedy these fears of “loneliness” by keeping staff, co-workers and interns virtually engaged constantly. Counteractive measures such as an increase in the volume of work meetings, discussions, panels, orientations, group chats, collaborative assignments, virtual coffee/lunch breaks, and even game breaks are put in place specifically to combat the feeling of exclusion which interns are susceptible to. In the new age of technology, there are an abundance of communications software such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, WhatsApp and Skype to help interns and their teams to interact effectively in co-working spaces.
Once again, remote internships do not have to be isolating experiences! While a mentor will not be there in person with you to hold your hand through every process, there are countless digital platforms for you to communicate and seek guidance from a professional. Employers much rather their interns ask questions constantly through emails and video calls, than to suppress their confusion and produce poor work. Asking questions and seeking validation shows great proactive approach in self-learning as it helps you upskill yourself whilst demonstrating to your colleagues that you are working with full clarity and confidence in your work.
Interning from home should not be any different to interning at the office, so your work-life balance should undergo minimal to no impact. If you are struggling to maintain a good balance in your private and professional life, you’ll most definitely face the same issues when interning from home. This is because your work organisation should coincide with your company’s office hours just as a typical in-person internship should. Whilst you have eliminated your commute to the workplace, it does not strictly imply you can suddenly prioritise your responsibilities outside of the internship. You’ll excel if you can adjust your remote internship to match the schedule of an in-person one, so that you don’t discriminate between your responsibilities, as there are clear boundaries set. This way, your work obligations will be honoured, and you’ll have a much more refreshing and enjoyable home life.