A remote internship is tricky; there is no question about that. However, how you approach it can make or break your experience. My data analyst internship with a microfinance organization called Parvati Swayamvikas lasted three months in the Spring of 2021. This placement was in India but because of the pandemic, I completed it remotely. This remote internship experience was enriching despite its challenges — for example, the time difference presents a challenge to overcome (India is 10 hours 30 minutes ahead of the U.S.)! Regardless, I learned some incredible lessons worth sharing.
The Art of Effective Communication
Communication is pretty difficult without face-to-face contact, so you must be intentional about communicating with your colleagues, supervisor, and boss. My supervisor and I came up with a weekly check-in rule. These weekly check-ins were for me to tell her how my project was coming along, any difficulties I had experienced while doing my tasks, and to ask any questions. Keep in mind that your supervisor has other works to do, so make these communications as efficient and effective as possible. For example, my supervisor and I agreed to exchange emails every Monday for project updates, and as the week progressed, we used WhatsApp texting for regular communication and project questions.
Create a Routine
Treat your remote internship as a regular in-office job; otherwise, you’ll find yourself postponing projects and completing them last minute. My remote internship was project based, and some days I found myself slacking and treating it as if it was homework. For an efficient and effective learning experience, create a routine and set aside time and space for “pure work-related things.” That way, you meet deadlines and fulfill your internship responsibilities. I wrote down my internship hours and blocked those hours for pure internship related work. Cortana is a great feature for blocking hours, and it helps you minimize any distractions.
Ask for Feedback
You want an enriching experience that could shape your career, influence your career path or help you reach your career goals. Therefore, to maximize on your remote internship, ask for feedback. This is beneficial when it comes to learning what it is you should improve on and what you should keep doing. These lessons will also help you grow professionally.
In conclusion, if you want to succeed, you will work hard and give it your best. Similarly, a remote internship can be very rewarding, but it depends on how you approach it. It is so easy to be distracted because you are not in a traditional office setup; however, the above lessons helped me stay focused throughout the course of my internship.
Jedidah (Jeddy) Ngarah is a graduate of St. Lawrence University majoring in statistics and economics. She completed the Remote International Internship with IFSA in Spring 2021.