Interning During a Pandemic? | Here Are 11 Tips to Crush it Anyway

interning during a pandemic

So pandemic movies really don’t prepare you for the real thing, and frankly, I’m crushed. Apparently, the two hours you’d spend watching Contagion would be better-spent hand-sanitizing and binge-watching Tiger King.  Welcome interns to your real-life silver-screen nightmare! I hope you’ve brought your popcorn because it’s time for a reality check about interning during a pandemic.

Here’s the Tea:

Between Telecommuting, Zoom Calls and limited time for building connections … interning during a pandemic sounds like a professional death sentence. But it doesn’t have to be! With some serious self-control and these few tips, we’ll make sure you get out this thing with your health (and career) intact!

1. Dress for success: You’re interning during a pandemic, not homeless!

Brush your teeth, take a shower, and put on some flipping deodorant! That’s right, no matter what’s happening in the world you made a commitment and it’s time you smelt like a professional. Could you go the entire quarantine in pajamas, yes? But should-you-tho, probably not.

Find your billion-dollar outfit, and wear the hell out of it!

Let’s not forget that Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, wears the same casual clothes every day and runs a company worth billions of dollars. Dressing in this way gives him one less decision to make and allows him to focus on more important workplace decisions. If you’re interning during a pandemic, find your billion-dollar outfit, and wear the hell out of it!

An academic study has shown that “higher objective cleanliness significantly correlates to higher perceived productivity and work satisfaction.” That’s good to know. In other words, taking a shower and brushing your teeth helps to make you not only feel more productive but happy with the work that you’re doing. Interning during a pandemic also shines a bright light on the negative effects of poor hygiene. Apart from the obvious responsibility for public health consideration, poor hygiene can also affect our ability to work well. According to another article, “feeling sick frequently can greatly interrupt your work performance, from causing missed deadlines to incomplete tasks and unsatisfactory work quality.” Their literally could not be a better time to step up your self-love habits then when interning during a pandemic.

Let’s talk power suit, the cocktail dress, and those hipster presentation glasses. We know the in-office tricks to step up the look and feel of our own productivity. I know I dragged you for wearing pajamas, but pettiness aside, the effects of clothing may have different effects on different people, so do what’s right for you.

2. Have a dedicated workplace and change it up!

We all know that bed is the least productive place to study. Work at the desk and your grades will thank you! Keeping that same mentality when interning during a pandemic will help you keep focused. Have a dedicated space that is clean and clear of distractions. According to Erik Davenly of Hubspot:

“Just because you’re not working at an office doesn’t mean you can’t, well, have an office. Rather than cooping yourself up in your room or on the couch — spaces that are associated with leisure time — dedicate a specific room or surface in your home to work.”

Also, reward yourself. Cabin fever kills productivity. Move your laptop, try working at the kitchen table for a day and allow yourself the flexibility to find the space that works the best for you.

3. Show up early

Nothing says, “I want to be here” quite like showing up a little early. I know that this can be tough to do online, but a simple good-morning-text or an email lets your supervisor know you’re plugged in and ready to go!

4. Act like you would at the office

If you’re working online and at home, stay focused. Opening social media for anything but your job is a sign of slacking off. Don’t allow yourself a false sense of security at home. To get the most out of your internship act like you’re still at the office.

5. Beware of miscommunications

One of the downsides to working online is that communication can sometimes be hard to decipher. Every office has a jokester, if that’s your brand, remember reading comments or emails online might hit differently than in person. Practice the benefit-of-the-doubt and try not to take deadlines or instructions too personally.

6. Take breaks

So this is a fine line that really boils down to your work style. When interning during a pandemic one of the benefits of telecommuting is privacy and self-management. When you’re taking your break, set a timer. If you’ve slacked off, get back to work sooner. Even though you’re at your apartment, you’re still on company time. Don’t waste your opportunity by taking short cuts that can sell your experience short.  Especially when interning during a pandemic, there is no better time to practice personal accountability.

7. Maintain trust and confidence

Keep up that positive relationship with your supervisor and don’t give them a reason to lose confidence in your ability to work on your own. You were selected to work for this team long before they thought you’d be interning during a pandemic! Show them why they chose you, and make sure to keep their confidence. Any telecommuting is typically a privilege, so when it’s a necessity, show them you’re competent enough to be trusted on projects which require self- control and dedication.

8. Keep in contact with other people

Don’t lose your network! Chances are that when your interning during a pandemic, so is the rest of the full-time team! Check up on them and remind them that you’re a team player. Schedule an informal interview and try to touch base or ask to learn something new! Just like this transition is not easy for you, it’s probably just as hard (if not harder) for them!

9. Keep a daily routine or structure

If you’re not scheduled to be working, don’t. Unlike online classes, when your interning during a pandemic you’re likely still working during regular business hours. So go ahead and get to bed on time and try to wake-up at the same time every day. The quicker you get yourself into a routine, the easier it will be to maintain consistent effort at your internship!

10. Give yourself small achievable goals every day

Write a list of what you need to get accomplished the night before you telecommute. What needs to get done and do you have the resources to complete those tasks? Creating a list of specific and measurable goals will help you to keep your focus.

11. Say Thank you

Let’s be honest here. If you’re interning during a pandemic, chances are you’re pretty lucky. As the country shuts down being kept around is a HUGE compliment. Make sure to be gracious and thank your supervisor for allowing you to continue your on-the-job learning. At the end of the day, they didn’t have to have interns, so remember that this opportunity is solely for your own benefit!

We get it, this is challenging for everyone. Hopefully, these tips will make things a bit easier for those interning during a pandemic! Like what you read? Share it on LinkedIn to inspire your struggling peers!

What other tips can you share to help out your fellow interns to make this crisis a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity?

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