A Blog by International Students at Leiden University

Doing A Virtual Internship – Tips and Tricks

As international students, we have been adapting to the new normal since early days of 2020. Personally, I feel so lucky that, thanks to our academic staff, the shift from face-to-face education to virtual education happened quite smoothly on my side. However, I was not sure about how working remotely would have affected my internship. Would I be able to learn some practical skills? How would I compensate the opportunity to meet people on site and learn by practice? These were some of the many questions I often asked myself before the commencement of my internship back in June.

Today, I am already halfway through my (virtual) internship and I should say that I liked it so far! Of course, I would have preferred to be able to work in the office; however, given the ongoing circumstances, I believe I am able to get the most out of it even though I am working virtually. Bearing in mind internships can be offered virtually for a while, in this blog, I would like to provide you with some tips and tricks based on my experience.

First and foremost, you should have a routine. Do not forget that you have `office hours` even though you will be working remotely. Adapting to this new reality was also hard for me in the beginning but then I tricked my mind by getting ready in the mornings as I would have gone to the office. What do I mean by this? Set your alarm clock and wake up before your office hours. Follow your usual morning routine, e.g. take a shower, have a cup of coffee etc., in order to put yourself in the mood. Get your mind and body ready for the day. For me, the biggest trick was dressing up! Find your own way to trick your mind in order to put yourself in the `working` mode – it will help you to be more efficient and concentrate on your tasks.

Have scheduled breaks but do not get easily disturbed. Stand up and do some exercises every now and then, take a look at outside, move to a separate area/room in order to freshen your mind. However, if you can easily be disrupted like me, also have a time limit for these small breaks, like 5 minutes per hour. Also, if you have this option, separate your work space and home space, like your bedroom etc.

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Obviously, I wasn`t quite successful at creating the best “working environment” for myself in the early days of my internship. Now it is way better though 😀

Always ask for feedback and be open to communication. As you might not be able to even meet with your supervisor(s) in person, the only way for you to understand their way of working, how to they convey their messages and what do they expect from you as an intern is to be constantly be in contact with your supervisor(s).

Make yourself familiar with apps used for remote working, e.g. Microsoft Teams, Skype or Zoom. Test your devices and their performance before commencement of your internship as they will be your main way of communication and fulfilling your tasks. Also, turn your camera on during the meetings. This will help you to concentrate better during the meetings and make you feel more connected rather than isolated.

Lastly, do not forget to enjoy your internship! In the end, this is a learning experience, thus, try to find your own ways to learn and experience new things every single day.

Are you also doing a virtual internship? How is your experience? Let us know in the comments below!

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