Given the widespread impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Summer 2020 is looking to be unlike any summer that’s come before. While we might not be able to enjoy beaches, parks, and concerts in the same ways we always have, the bright side is that many of us won’t have to spend our work weeks cooped up in an office—our jobs have transitioned to remote ones. This is turning out to be the case for many full-time, part-time, and internship roles.
Working remotely can be awesome. I’ve been a professional remote worker, or “digital nomad”, for about a year now. I graduated from college last May and spent two out of four of my summers during college working remotely as well. I love it. And I’m here to help you learn how to master it so you will love it too.
What do I love most? The power you have over how you spend each and every day. If you approach this opportunity with positivity, patience, and the intent to figure it out (whatever ‘it’ may be), you will gain incredible skills that will help you in every single walk of life. Here are four tips to help you excel in your remote internship.
Make a Plan
At some point before you start your remote internship, it’s helpful to make a plan. This plan should play to your strengths as a worker. As a student, you are probably already aware of your own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to productivity. Are you an early-riser? Or a night owl? Are you most productive right after that first cup of coffee? Or perhaps you get into the zone around 1am.
Every internship is different, so definitely spend the first week or so learning the workflow. As long as you stay hyper aware of your deadlines and alert for any calls or virtual meetings, it will really be up to you to dictate when and how you get the majority of your work done. Of course this varies from internship to internship, and you should follow the guidelines set by your own manager.
Personally, I prepare for work days by making task lists. I have experimented with various formats and enjoy switching it up every so often. Sometimes, I follow the 1-3-5 format where task #1 is a large task and is your main priority; then, you write out 3 medium-sized tasks to work through when you get sick of doing your main task; and 5 small (tiiiny) tasks that are as quick as sending an email or booking a phone call. It’s also okay if you don’t get through the entire task list in one day! It feels good to check something, anything off, and you will definitely experience that with this kind of checklist.
Another format is breaking down your tasks by hours or the time they take. This format can be helpful if you want to limit the hours spent on any one task—for me, this is most helpful with writing. However, it can also be frustrating when tasks take longer than you expected, which is often the case. So, don’t get discouraged if this happens to you.
Create an ‘Aura of Productivity’
Planning out your work environment is crucial to setting yourself up for a productive day. Lucky for you, you have almost complete control over what your workspace looks like—a luxury that office jobs just do not afford. When you’re working from home, clearing off your desk, hanging some inspirational quotes, and lighting some candles could provide the positive vibes you need.
Unfortunately because of COVID-19, options are limited for where you can set up your workspace outside of home, and safety comes first. For any future remote internships, if you prefer working alongside others, finding a coffee shop with comfortable seats, that plays non-distracting music and serves a mean latte can be a great option. Co-working spaces can also make great work environments; they give you the cozy vibes of your favorite coffee shop while also being built with the intent to promote productivity.
For now though, if you prefer working alongside others, you could try a video co-working session via Zoom.
Get Down To It
Now that you’ve properly set yourself up to be productive, it’s time to get to work accomplishing those tasks. With the freedom and flexibility comes great responsibility. Some people set timers and work for spurts of 30-60 minutes with 5-10 minute breaks. Others set out to accomplish a task and don’t quit until it’s done. Again, as a remote worker, it’s totally up to you! You know yourself and your attention span, so do what feels right and stick with it. But definitely don’t forget to take breaks—some of my best ideas have come to me while I’m on a walk during a break.
Positive Self Talk / Words of Encouragement
My last and most important piece of advice, especially for rising interns, is to make sure you’re not standing in your own way. Inevitably, you are going to feel challenged at times and perhaps like you are incapable of accomplishing the task at hand. Have no fear. This happens to everyone. Whenever those feelings of self-doubt start creeping in, squash them immediately. Remind yourself that you were hired for a reason. You are valuable. People want to know what you have to say. Your contribution is needed.
If you take advantage of these tips and construct a personalized productivity strategy, you’ll be sure to put your best foot forward and impress those who you are reporting to. You can do this! And you can make the most of your Summer 2020 internship.
About Val Elefante
Val Elefante is the NYCity Manager of Croissant, an app that makes coworking more convenient, comfortable, and affordable for remote workers around the world. With the Croissant app, you can check-in and out of over 70+ beautiful spaces around NYC and pay only for the time you spend there. It’s great for those who love exploring the vast neighborhoods and different work environments from modern office to more ~coffee shop vibes~. If you find yourself working remotely in NYC this summer, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s cowork together!
By Val Elefante