remote internship
Inside The Office Startup

Our Interns Share How to Succeed in a Remote Internship

So you landed that remote internship you wanted. Congratulations! You’re excited and can’t wait to start, but you have a lot of questions. We asked our intern team at both Carlton PR & Marketing and Lioness, past and present, what they think it takes to succeed.

Create a comfortable workspace

Before you even start day one of your remote internship, create a physical workspace so you can do your best work. 

Aaron Rippin found a productive space but wished he had done it right away. “Finding a comfortable space in your house to get work done is super important. At the beginning of my internship, I was constantly shifting around because I couldn’t feel comfortable in one spot for a long time. This disrupted my workflow.”

Things you’ll need for your workspace: good lighting, ergonomic seating and freedom from distractions and noise. 

Write down your goals

Don’t just think about your goals. After your onboarding, settle into your workspace and write out your goals. What do you want to learn? What areas of work do you want to explore? How do you want to collaborate? What will make you feel successful in your internship? What relationships do you want to create?

One of Alyssa Ventura’s SMART goals was to “gain experience with tools such as Canva, Meta Business Suite and Constant Contact and use those tools to effectively create valuable content to attract and engage our target audiences to increase visibility and engagement at least 10 percent by the end of my internship.”

Learn more about SMART goals.

Track your tasks

Keep track of your work – including daily tasks and long-term projects. First, this makes it easier to update your resume and LinkedIn profile. Second, this allows your supervisors and mentors to understand your workload and help you sooner or assign new work to support your learning goals and growth. Finally, your company can hold on to your task lists and refer to them in the future if you need a reference or recommendation.

“Looking at my task list, it’s interesting to see what kind of work occupied me throughout my internship,” said Jessica Zang. Her growing responsibilities showed her how much she had learned from the beginning of her internship to its conclusion.

Take time to periodically reflect on your tasks to see the progress you’re making toward your goals. Ask yourself what you did/did not enjoy doing, what you’re most proud of, what you’ll do differently next time and what skills are transferable to other work.

Be deliberate in building relationships

Build relationships by making time to connect with everyone in your department or small company. It makes asking for help a lot easier and keeps things running smoothly when you communicate with coworkers.

Your first source of support is your intern team, which may include other interns, mentors or supervisors.

When you need help, “you always have the intern team to ask questions and seek advice,” said Sanch Sen.

Alicia Leung elaborates, “Everyone is very welcoming and continues to support, reaching out and staying connected after my internship. I heard life stories and professional journeys that included a lot of advice that I will be able to use when it comes time to choose a career for myself.”

“Mentors are also there to help and seek out opportunities for you,” said Zang.

At Carlton and Lioness, our goal is for interns to get full-time jobs doing something they love. This means exploring all aspects of the companies and themselves.

Show initiative and be flexible

Your internship is an opportunity to learn and grow. If you were in-person, you might hear a conversation or be asked about something at lunch that spikes your interest. When you’re working at a remote internship, you need to make an extra effort to communicate and actively pursue new tasks and experiences.

“Push yourself out of your comfort zone to get a more well-rounded experience,“ said Leung. “It’s easy to get sidetracked and too comfortable doing familiar things. Make it your priority to push yourself and make sure your internship is all about new skills and experiences.”

Be sure to volunteer for tasks. Ask questions. Inquire about joining meetings. Actively pursue learning.

Be open to feedback, and don’t stress about mistakes

Failure is not final and mistakes aren’t a conclusion. Much is learned through mistakes, so embrace them as part of the process.

“I would tell new interns not to stress out when making mistakes because we’re all learning. Especially with new programs and platforms being released every day, you’re not the only one adjusting to something new,” said Rippin.

Remind yourself that mistakes are going to happen and ask for support in learning because you want to make the same mistakes. Look for chances to make new ones.

Company culture matters… in internships, too

Not every company or internship is going to be ideal for you. Be sure to do your research and understand as much as possible about the companies where you want to be an intern. You want to find a good fit for your work style or a place that allows you to explore what that style is.

“Carlton PR & Marketing is a highly collaborative space, so I was lucky to have the company culture support connection,” said Rippen. He adds that he found coworking helpful. “It’s important to make the most of being in a virtual office space. Don’t be afraid to ask for an impromptu meeting with a collaborator so you can work on your project together, almost like you’re in person.”

Your well-being matters in an internship as it does in any space. Look for a company that welcomes and appreciates all you have to offer, including who you are.

What a remote internship is all about

An internship is your opportunity to learn about an industry and company. But remember: you’ll learn about yourself, too. You may even learn that you want to shift your path and move toward a different career. 

With a long-time interest in women in STEM, Sen entered her marketing internship to learn a new field. She really enjoyed the work and ended up shifting her career path to marketing for an organization focused on women in STEM. 

While Danny Bolter started their internship knowing the work they loved doing, writing and copy editing, they learned an unexpected lesson, too. They learned the importance of a supportive and empathetic company culture. “After my internship, I’ll be equipped to know what a good place to work is.”

This is an exciting time for you! The right remote internship is out there for you. Do your research, decide on your goals, and make a plan to be successful. And be open to change, learning and new connections with others. The experience will shape you in unexpected and exciting ways.

About the author

Suzanne Drapeau

Suzanne Drapeau taught writing at the high school and college levels for 30 years and recently joined Carlton PR & Marketing. She spends her “free” time working/volunteering for the Hyperemesis Education and Research (HER) Foundation, where her main role is managing social media and building partnerships with other maternal health nonprofits. She lives in Michigan but hopes to become a digital nomad when her children finish their educations.

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