By Annie Pei
You snagged a remote internship—congrats! Welcome to a world of flexible working. While remote internships have a ton of pros, you’ll need to be prepared to work and complete all of your intern responsibilities…with all the distractions at home.
When you have a remote internship, how can you stay focused and make sure you’re getting things done? We’ve got five easy tips to do so!
1. Plan out and stick to a work schedule
To fight all the distractions that can take you away from work at home, come up with a work schedule to stay organized! Layout all your responsibilities for the day or week, and then map out time blocks that you’ll use to complete each. That way, you’ll stay on track and fight the temptation to be unproductive, which happens a lot with remote internships.
“I set out a work schedule every week and a daily quota based on that schedule. This helped me reach my content goals every week and kept me on track,” says Megan Fink, a senior at Southern Mississippi University. “To make a remote internship work, you’ve got to be naturally task-oriented and organized. No one is holding your hand anymore.”
If you do find yourself straying away from your schedule, you may need to alter your agenda a bit or create an incentive for you to get back on track. For example, you can extend your lunch break in your schedule so you can recharge more, or you can let yourself chat with friends for a half-hour, but only after you finish a large task. There are many ways to keep yourself to a schedule, so think of ways that will work for you!
2. Get rid of any distractions
At a normal internship, you’d put away all your music, stay away from social media during work hours and make sure you weren’t watching any shows or surfing the web except for work purposes. But when you’re working from home, having no supervisor to watch over you could make you feel like you can get away with doing all those things. While you can definitely keep Facebook open and the TV on without anyone knowing, you need to be sure that you won’t get distracted, which means taking away anything that can detract from your productivity!
Some suggestions, according to Lesley Mitler, founder of career counseling service Priority Candidates, Inc., include shutting off the TV and your access to any websites that normally hurt how productive you are. This also means turning off chat programs!
3. Check in with your supervisor regularly
A good way to stay on track is to check in with your supervisor regularly, just as you would with a regular internship. Constant communication with your supervisor is a great motivator since you’ll not only need to let him or her know how much work you’ve completed, but it’s also a way to get you more tasks that will keep you focused.
“I asked to Skype or Google Hangout with multiple members of the team… even though I couldn’t physically go to work all day,” says Wesleyan sophomore Lily Herman. “It does take a lot of your own personal initiative. However, I’ve found that the more I’ve asked for, the more I’ve received, and I’ve had a totally enriching and fulfilling experience!”
Establishing this level of communication with your supervisor is also essential in a remote internship since you’ll have less of a chance to build connections with everyone at your office. This way, you get to really cement your work relationships even while working from home.
“It really depends on the internship, but I think you can get a lot more experience if you just ask for things,” Lily says. “I’ve taken on more projects and happily offered to work on some other pieces that weren’t originally assigned to me so I had more of a chance to interact with the company.”
4. Dress for the occasion
Part of feeling like you’re at an office is dressing like you’re at an office, and the same goes when you’re interning at home. Putting on a hoodie instead of a button-down could take away the edge you feel while at work, which isn’t a bad idea from time to time. However, to maintain a level of professionalism, try to avoid wearing outfits that are too casual all the time.
“I would always put on a nicer outfit like I was actually going somewhere and do my hair and makeup. You never know when your boss might want to Skype,” says Ohio State junior Aurora Stromberg.
So, when you wake up in the morning, consider trying out a blouse instead of a T-shirt, or a pencil skirt or dress pants instead of your jeans. You’ll feel a lot more professional and ready to work that way.
5. In the end, act like you have an on-site internship
Remote internships should be treated and approached the same way as regular internships, and all the tips and suggestions we just gave will help you do just that. Your main motivation should still be to build connections and impress your supervisor just as you would with an on-site internship. This means that you need to find ways to imitate an office work environment, which involves making sure that you stay focused and organized and acting as you would if your supervisor was nearby.
“Staying focused is difficult, as is any online course or job, but I think the biggest thing to remember is that no matter where you do your internship, you’re getting incredible experience,” says Laura Bauman, a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. “So when you have a really difficult task or project to push through, think of how you might do it in an ‘on-location’ setting, and remember that even though it’s difficult, it’s so worth it!”