Intern Blogs

Building Connections in a Remote World

By in Intern Blogs

Guest post By Megan carolla | March 23th 2021
Reading Time: 4 minutes

It is an understatement to say that we are living in uncertain times. On top of this, many of us are experiencing the learning curve and obstacles that come with adapting to a virtual environment, including myself.

I studied abroad in Switzerland before the pandemic hit and when I was sent home, I had a difficult time wrapping up course instruction online. I found it challenging to be an active listener on Zoom for hours a day. During this period, I learned that my summer internship was going to be transformed into a remote working environment. I felt very fortunate to still hold an internship opportunity despite the climate in our country, but it was definitely a wakeup call that I would need to adjust my habits and set myself up for success for the duration of the summer.  


I started fresh by giving myself a clean slate and took a virtual 6-week class through  Harvard Edx once my junior year of college concluded. Through this experience, I was able to work to actively listen, manage my time, and ultimately build upon my current skillset in a  virtual environment. It did not hurt that I was also able to include a new certificate of completion to my LinkedIn and resume! Adding this structure to my days in quarantine enabled me to feel more equipped to operate a full workday from the comfort of my home successfully in the coming weeks.


Prior to my first day on the desk, I also made a point to develop a workspace that would foster an efficient working environment. Being a college student on a college budget, it was very important to me to make my desk and workspace affordable. I utilized Facebook Marketplace and old items in my house to create a comfortable and productive workspace that was separate from my bedroom and areas that I associate with relaxation. By doing this I was able to  “commute” to my designated desk space every morning alerting my body that it was time to focus and work. 


Once my summer internship program officially began, I set out with a goal for myself to have a plan to maximize my experience by the end of the first week. At the end of the first week, I had a plan with specific work objectives, but more importantly, I committed myself to reach out to at least three new people to schedule a virtual coffee chat each week. 


One of the largest obstacles in a remote environment is developing relationships with coworkers. There is no more opportunity for quick conversations after meetings or lunch outings.  In a remote environment, it is easy to fly under the radar and complete the tasks that are asked of you. In order to stand out and get a true understanding of a company’s culture, being intentional about building relationships is key. By making a point of reaching out to three new colleagues for virtual chats each week, I extracted an invaluable experience from my remote internship. I  learned much more about the industry than I expected from hearing people’s stories, I received a  true understanding of the firm’s culture and built long-lasting relationships. 


I concluded my internship with a newly developed network and a solidified understanding of what direction I want to take my career upon graduation. Both of these achievements can be attributed to the numerous Zoom and phone calls I made this summer to receive human interaction and build valuable relationships that will go well beyond my weeks as a remote intern.  


Do not be afraid to reach out to someone in your company or industry in a virtual environment. Everyone can spare 15 minutes in their calendar to get to know you and share their  experiences. In many cases, both parties will ultimately benefit from creating a new relationship and understanding of one another.

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