Cup of coffee with the quote "Begin"

The Ultimate Guide to Excel at Your Remote Internship

We are all now experiencing the blessings and challenges of working remotely whether we like it or not. My name is Silvana. I'm part of the Absolute team, working at the Operations department, and this is the ultimate guide to excel at your remote internship.

Let’s face it: we all have those days where you just don’t feel like staying still in front of the computer for 8 hours replying to emails. Working from home can be challenging, not only in terms of organization and productivity, but also in terms of motivation and mental health. So... how can you overcome these days and stay focused?

I have listed some tools and tips that will help you have a successful remote internship, stay focused and motivated. Hey - these tips work for me! That doesn’t mean you should apply them all together, but at least, they may give you some inspiration and serve as a guide!

 

1. Set Up a Routine

I’m an early bird myself, I have been blessed with the ability of waking up early without any trouble. So the time I'm the most focused is during the morning time. Because of this, I tend to wake up and start my work day every day at 9:00 a.m. I need to feel like I properly wake up, so I shower and change before my work day starts.

"I can’t (and I suggest you don’t) work in your bedroom or even worse, laying on your bed. Get up and try to create a space in your house that you use for work only."

If you have the chance, that space should be quiet and comfortable for you to sit and work for hours. I tend to do the most challenging or time-consuming tasks during my mornings, and schedule my meetings during the afternoons. Having lunch at the same time everyday helps to create the routine and scheduling my meetings in the afternoon everyday gives my day a certain structure. If you are not an early bird and you are more focused in the afternoon or nights, make sure to create a routine and a schedule that works for you but make sure you have structure in your day!

Laptop on a bedroom's desk

2. Stay Organized

One of the most - if not the most - important remote work skills to have is organization. It is really easy to lose focus and track of the goals and tasks everyday if you don’t have constant reminders or a fluid communication with colleagues and your supervisor. Also, when receiving emails from multiple people in your company, it can become overwhelming.

How to deal with your tasks? I have some tools that work for me, but make sure you adapt or find other ones that might better fit your work style.

  • First, I am a huge email believer. My colleagues are more "chat" kind of people, so when they send me a chat through Slack or any other platform asking me to do something, I always ask them to send me an email. If not, I might forget, flooded with chat messages and different conversations. I don’t open an email unless I’m about to take action on that email, and I never leave my emails unopened for the next day.
  • Next, I use my to-do list which is a normal word document where I list all the tasks per project I need to do and the deadlines I need to do them by. In this to-do list I also have a section to follow up with other people. Sometimes a project or a task you are responsible for will not only depend on you, so you need to also keep track of other people’s work and deadlines.
  • Third, I overuse my Google Calendar (you can use whatever calendar works for you and your company) And I write down all the projects and tasks I need to work on that day and probably, during the week. Even reminders are in my calendar, things like: “Get back to John regarding that payment” are things that I include in my calendar to make sure I don’t forget anything and that I stay organized. 

 

[5 Time Management Tips When Interning Remotely]

 

3. Communicate

I can’t address this enough, but if you want to have a successful remote internship, and you want to develop work skills while working remotely, then you need to step up your communication skills. This means that you need to be proactive and stay connected with your colleagues, your team and your supervisor.

You can go ahead and schedule check-ins with your manager if you are unsure about a task, if you can handle more work, or if you came up with an idea about something. Also, knowing the right way to write emails is essential. It is very easy to write emails that don’t have a clear objective or a deadline. Before sending an email, make sure you have a clear goal of what you want to say or ask the other person - what you need, from who and by when.

It might be difficult for your supervisor to understand the amount of workload you might have. If it's too much and they ask for additional tasks, it is extremely important to manage their expectations and make sure you can deliver the work on time. If not, you need to communicate it in advance!

 

4. Take Breaks

To keep yourself focused and motivated, you’ll need to take breaks. And that’s ok! Make sure to keep your breaks short (15 minutes) and try not to check your emails, think of work, take calls or do anything related to work during that time. Disconnect. Go to your kitchen and get a cup of coffee, meditate (if you can), or just watch some TikTok videos before going back to your laptop and start working again. If you ask my advice, don’t take breaks when you are working on a task, but when you are done with a task and before you start another one. That way you don’t lose focus.

Desk computer with quote "Do More"

 

5. Find Your Motivation

Last but not least, I would suggest you find what motivates you. In my case, I love staying busy, so it is easy for me to look for new projects, and start improvements and take on tasks. But I also have days where I just don’t feel like checking my email or working on my computer for 8 hours. Those days it takes a little extra effort to stay motivated.

One of the things that usually helps is trying to break the routine (I know, I know, it can be confusing) but just setting up my work station somewhere else, or ordering lunch instead of cooking, or going for a run in the morning will change my mindset that day.

"Do something that makes you happy during your day to make sure you get that extra energy and motivation you might be needing."

And commit to do your tasks after that coffee or that delicious chocolate-nutella cake you just bought. Maybe you’ll find that extra motivation in your colleagues, or working on a specific project you believe in and actually like! Work on those things that day. 

[5 Myths of Remote Internships]

 

I hope my experience, and my own made-up tools, help you to set the best practices for your own remote internship. Again, some days you’ll love to work remotely, others, it will be hard, but if you develop a routine, if you stay organized, if you keep communicating and you find the right motivation, you’ll have a successful remote internship! And think about it, the next time you are at an interview and they ask you what work skills set you have, you can take this experience as an example.

Working remotely is hard, but you will be able to do that successfully if you're organized, you are a good communicator, proactive, disciplined, motivated and focused on results. Any company will want you!

 

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