Remote internships are here to stay and growing quickly. There are seven times more remote internships advertised today on Indeed than in 2019. Offering invaluable learning opportunities with teams around the world, remote internships open up a greater diversity of employment options, broader access to employer networks and critical experience for the jobs of the future, a majority of which will inherently include remote working conditions.
The same skills that are necessary for “in-person” success in internships are and will continue to be important for remote positions; however, there are significant nuances in some of the core skill sets that are worth highlighting:
1. From Effective Communication to Contextual Communication
When everyone is living through a common experience in the same office space and the same time zone, the notion of effective communication makes sense. However, as soon as a team needs to deliver on the same results with team members living in and working from vastly different physical, mental, emotional and material conditions, effective communication takes on a much greater contextual importance. For a colleague who is on a video conference call at 8pm, a clearly written brief may still be more cumbersome to understand than a short slide that leans more heavily on images to convey thoughts and ideas.
2. From Time Management to Time Coordination
Managing your own time has and will always be critical to a successful internship experience. However, when everyone starts to manage their own time in their own space within their own hours, there is an entire layer of team-level coordination that needs to take place to ensure that the baton is passed efficiently from one person to another. When everyone works in an office, the end of the day is generally understood as the time that everyone goes home. You can usually spot your colleague gathering her things and getting ready to leave the office, so if you need to rush to see her, you can. That is obviously not the case when working remotely. The end of the working day for one colleague could be 6pm, while for another colleague it is 11pm. In remote working conditions it is generally better to over-communicate about the precise hour something will be completed and what support is necessary in the preceding hours to get you there. In this way, you are helping to orchestrate a coordinated effort that will end up saving everyone a lot of time in the end.
3. From Technological Savvy to Technological Adaptability
Remote work has given rise to a myriad of technology solutions that are growing at an astronomical rate. There is no way to keep up with the latest collaboration, communication and performance enhancing tools and platforms out there. When everyone was working in offices that benefited from the same servers, bandwidth connections and security protocols, companies could invest in a few major technology solutions that tended to be fairly similar from one medium enterprise to another. Remote working conditions have introduced new challenges and constraints and technologists are rising to the challenge at warp speed. It is no longer expected that interns come in with already-acquired standard technological know-how, but it is expected that they can quickly learn new technology and become fluent in new software. The only way to become technologically adaptable is to be curious enough to try new software out in your free time. The more software you learn, the easier it will become to learn the next one.