Success Secrets for Interns Who Work Remotely

This summer my company, LifeBound, hired several interns. One of these interns, Samantha Bonnette, a student at Tulane University, is doing publicity work from a town in Louisiana while LifeBound’s home office is in Denver. She’s done such a remarkable job working off site that I asked her to write this week’s column. So whether you’re a parent coaching your teen or young adult on career related decisions, or a student who is going to need an internship to meet a college requirement, you will find Samantha’s tips both inspiring and practical.

Have you ever searched for an internship that seemed to be custom made just for you?  Everything about it excites you.  You read through the description and are all set to fill out the application.  Then it hits you. You see that your dream internship is in a place that you know you are not going to be able to relocate to.  You know no one anywhere near the vicinity of the job that you could stay with, plus you need to save money over the summer by living at home.  You breathe a deep sigh. Your hopes of experiencing the perfect internship are ruined.  Now what do you do?  You move on to the next available, but not so great internship, right?  Wrong.

There is still a way to land the ideal internship.  Trust me, I know.  I’m spending my summer working for LifeBound as a remote intern.  I get all of the benefits of a valuable internship from the comforts of my own home.  I set the hours and decide on the dress.  It is wonderful.  Of course, working at home can be a little difficult since you are not under any immediate supervision.  So I found it helpful to follow a few simple tips to make the most of my remote summer internship.  These helped to make the internship both beneficial to myself and to LifeBound.

1. Organize.  Organization is a key ingredient to any internship, especially a remote internship.  It is very important that you organize your time, priorities, assignments, etc.  Decide early on in the internship what and how many hours you are going to devote to the internship.  The company or organization that you work for is counting on you to devote time to specific projects.  It is very important that you prioritize all tasks and assignments.  Know what is expected of you and know what assignments are most important.  It is essential that you get all projects and assignments done on time.

2.  Communicate.  Communication is another key aspect of a remote internship.  Since you are not in the office (or in my case, not even in the same state) as the people you work for, you need to find a way to communicate effectively.  Figure out what the easiest method of communication would be to fit your needs.  In my case, e-mail and telephone calls provided the easiest and most efficient way for us to communicate.  Decide how often you will touch base with your internship supervisors.   Agree on a time that will fit both your schedule and your supervisor’s to avoid any missed calls or unsuccessful communication attempts.  Be sure to relay any problems or questions that you may have about your assigned projects.  If things are ever too much for you to handle, be sure to let your supervisor know.  They cannot help you if you do not communicate.  Remember, they are depending on you.

3.  Create.  One of the benefits of having an internship is gaining hands on, real world experience that not only will help you in the future, but will also enhance your resume.  What better way of enhancing your resume than to create a portfolio of your work?  Many internships require you to work on various projects.  Make the projects your own.  Be creative and come up with ways to improve your assignment.  This not only will look good on your resume but will also impress your supervisors.

4.  Budget.  Most internships are unpaid.  Remote internships require you to purchase materials on your own.  Ask your supervisor how much money they want to budget for each assignment.  Save all receipts from any expenses you have related to your internship.  Arrange a reimbursement schedule so that either at the end or beginning of the month you can be reimbursed for the costs you incurred.  If at any time you cannot afford to buy the needed materials, go to the stores and price the items so that you can give your supervisors an idea of how much money you will spend.  Remember to fax receipts for these items as well.  Another good idea is to work a part-time job so that you will have some income during the summer months.

5.  Enjoy.  Last but certainly not least, is to enjoy your self.  All work and no play is no fun.  Your internship should be something that you enjoy doing.  Internships are good for the experience, but make sure it is an experience that you can look back on with fond memories.  Remember, this is your summer vacation and summers are made for fun.

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