As a college student, starting any internship can be intimidating. For many, it’s a first glimpse into the professional work field, working longer hours than ever before and completing assignments with semi-proficiency. Meeting new faces behind a Microsoft Teams or Skype camera may seem second best to in-person introductions, but the end goal of making connections and perceiving the company culture remains the same. Having interned virtually myself, here are some of the suggestions I followed to better understand if the company was a good fit for me.
Make an Effort to Introduce Yourself
You may not have the ability to cruise cubicle to cubicle, but that doesn’t mean you can’t gain some new contacts outside of your direct reports. Don’t be afraid to send introductory emails to colleagues who work outside of your circle. Reach out to anyone whose roles interest you or work alongside roles that do. Tell them who you are and what you hope to gain out of your internship experience, and see if they would be willing to set up time for a phone call to chat more about their job. I’ve found that when someone really enjoys their job, they’ll jump at any opportunity to talk about their position and provide advice to those hoping to follow a similar career path.
Sit In On Meetings
After spending some time introducing yourself, ask some of your new contacts if you can hop in on a meeting or two. Observing meetings is extremely beneficial for an intern for a few reasons. You’ll get a taste for company culture as you watch the team interact. Does the leader promote a collaborative nvironment? This is a great chance to see if the company appears to be a good fit for you. Chances are, you’ll also have a minute to introduce yourself to the group – another way to expand your connections. You’re also learn bound to learn something, even if it’s as simple as picking up on industry lingo.
See the Office
Depending on your company’s circumstances, getting into the office is a great opportunity for interns to learn more about the company. You’ll see what a professional office space looks like and hopefully meet some familiar faces in person. You’ll see what others are wearing and how they interact with each other, both key points in better understanding a company’s culture. You’ll also see some other key considerations to accepting a a full time position, like commute time, parking, and the surrounding area.
Even if you can’t get into the office, make an effort to meet your boss and other mentors in person. Should you ever need a reference or letter of recommendation down the line, you’ll have more confidence asking having met face to face.
Connect with Colleagues on LinkedIn
Before the summer ends, make sure you rejuvenate your LinkIn profile. You didn’t work hard all summer for it to go unnoticed. If you haven’t yet, add your internship role to your profile, and even more importantly, connect with the professionals you met. LinkedIn is a powerful networking tool that will guide you in your career search. The more connections you have in your desired industry, the better. Down the line, the connections you make as an intern are bound to help you out in your job search.
Remote or not, the goal of any internship remains the same: gain hands on experience, network professionally, and evaluate your field of interest. While remote internships pose some additional obstacles in fulfilling these goals, I have confidence that you will succeed. Best of luck!