As COVID-19 hit us all hard, the entire world went virtual. Nobody, I repeat, nobody was ready for these unprecedented times. I’m not an exception.
Hey! My name is Ritika Kaushik. I’m a Master of Business, specialising in Marketing, student at Monash University. This was my last semester, and in order to graduate, I had a choice to opt for an internship. I won’t lie, I was initially uncertain about the whole virtual internship experience. Later, I realised that completing an internship during my course is an ideal time to build my resume. That’s how I decided to submit my virtual video interview to the university.
A few weeks later, I was shortlisted by HEX for a personal interview. Still very unsure about the whole virtual internship experience, I thought of just going with the flow. Trust me, to go with the flow was my best decision of 2020.
The interview was all about recognising my skillset and what I would like to pursue in my career. Hacker Exchange wanted to give me an opportunity to learn, be gutsy, and take up the challenge of working autonomously. It felt like this was my window of opportunity and there was no way I was letting this slide.
I strongly believe that it’s important to choose the internship company and the role wisely, for your growth, development, and good exposure.
The Virtual Journey:
I kicked off my virtual internship with a faulty webcam and poor Wi-Fi connection. Terrifying, right? Let’s look at it from a positive perspective: nobody could see my anxious face on my first day of the virtual internship. Yay!
I was terrified but also equally empowered by the challenges that I knew were going to come my way. What’s fun if there are no challenges?
It honestly felt quite odd to kick off an internship with people you’ve only seen on your laptop screen. Well, that’s normal in 2020.
I’ll level with you: on the first day of my virtual internship, I was overwhelmed and intimidated with all the work that was assigned to me and no clarity on what exactly was expected from me.
Later that day, I had a meeting with a former intern and now an employee of Hacker Exchange who also happened to be an alumnus of Monash University. He shared with me his internship experience saying-
“I was overwhelmed, too. Don’t be hesitant to ask for help, we’re all here for you.”
This is what helped me regain my composure.
Now that I have successfully completed my virtual internship, I’d like to share my top 3 tips that personally helped me ace it:
1. Build Connections
Forming connections with your colleagues in a virtual set-up can get a bit tricky. It’s time for you to take charge to form a sense of belongingness with everyone. This will not only help you feel more connected to your work but also motivate and push you to work harder.
“Working for Hacker Exchange is like being in a healthy relationship. Everyone is loving, supportive and motivates you to be the best version of yourself. The synergy between the team members is what makes Hacker Exchange so successful in what they do and being a part of the team has only made me more motivated to achieve my own goals.”
- Sheila Van, fellow intern @ Hacker Exchange.
How do we form connections? The answer for me was to set up personal virtual meetings with my colleagues, add them on my LinkedIn network, get involved in all the work discussions, make sure to attend all the virtual events and meetings without fail, and to compensate for my poor internet, I made a fun introduction video to help them know me better.
2. Be Proactive
It can get difficult to juggle between a virtual internship and university. To get the most out of your internship, it’s important for you to take your virtual internship as seriously as your traditional internship. Managing time and working from the comfort of your couch can lead to easy distractions. Maintaining a checklist in order to not get lost amidst different tasks is a must for any virtual intern.
Once you know how to manage your time better, it’s time to get going. How? Take initiative, always be ready to take up new challenges and opportunities, and lastly, deliver your work on time — that’s the key to staying on track.
Here’s what Sheila, a fellow intern @ Hacker Exchange had to say—
“Being proactive at this internship with the Hacker Exchange family has had a tremendous impact on my personal and professional growth and I can definitely say I will be graduating into the industry with newfound skills and confidence.”
3. Effective Communication
DON’T BE SHY! Ask questions. The organization you’re interning at is very well aware that you’re new to the company. They expect you to ask them questions. If you don’t ask, you won’t learn. Communicating effectively will boost your confidence, productivity, and help you get a clearer direction. Ask as many questions as you have. Effective communication is a process of learning new things.
“Hacker Exchange’s values and practices highly encourage voicing out opinions and challenging arguments to spark discussions. This aided me as I continued my internship with Hacker Exchange. I learned to confidently verbalize my ideas and keep an active discussion with my supervisor.”
- Chua Perh Nian, fellow intern @ Hacker Exchange
Overall, just like traditional internships, virtual internships are a two-way street. It’s essential for you to choose the right organisation and deliver your best.
In my personal virtual experience with Hacker Exchange, my colleagues made me feel welcomed and comfortable really early. I always looked forward to our meetings as we not only discussed work but also chatted and laughed a lot. It was a perfect blend of humour along with discipline.
Lastly, no denying that virtual internships are more challenging than traditional internships. The key is to put in a little bit of extra effort. But again, your efforts will make your virtual experience a valuable one for your career journey.