Setting yourself up for success in your virtual internship starts with making a space for yourself. No matter if you are just working at a desk in your room or you have a dedicated office room, make sure you do a little something to make the space your own. Putting a plant, decoration, or photo of loved ones in your space helps you to mentally separate it from the other spaces in your home. On the more practical side, make sure the background in your webcam is free of distractions or clutter. Also, if your desk chair isn’t the most supportive, it helps to put a small pillow or rolled up blanket at the small of your back for better lumbar support.
Make sure that you have a solid understanding of how many hours you are working and what your job duties are, and then translate that into a weekly schedule. By completing your internship at relatively similar hours each week, it will help you get in a productive mindset and tell your brain, “okay, time for my internship!” since you don’t have to physically travel anywhere to begin working.
The goal of an internship is not only to gain experience working in a professional environment, but also to learn. The best way to do this is to make sure you are staying in communication with your supervisor and coworkers. Ask questions, ask for feedback, and take notes to reference later. Not only will you be clear on what you have to do, but it also helps build professional relationships with your coworkers which are just as valuable as the work experience.
I’ve found that I have better time management and organization when I treat my work from home environment as I would any professional environment. For me, that means putting on business casual attire instead of sweatpants and turning off my phone to limit distractions. I also post my work schedule on my door so that my roommates are aware of when I am not available to talk (and the same would be helpful if you are living with family!)
Last but not least, even though you may be geographically distant from your coworkers, it’s important to remember that you are working with people who can help and support you. You are still learning, and it’s okay to ask for help or clarification so that you can get the most out of your internship.
Written by Anna Brackett, MICA Architectural Design '22