COVID-19 has changed the world of work for most professionals and many of these changes are here to stay for the foreseeable future. Sometimes it is difficult to remember a time when Zoom and Microsoft Teams weren’t tools of high importance in the workplace. Meetings have mostly moved online, emails are more important than ever before and traditional offices have been swapped for desks in kitchens, sitting rooms and converted garages.
Employees have made significant changes in terms of work and the same can be said for student interns as many internships are also moving online.
As university students, work placements play a significant role in our overall degree. Not only is a student internship a great addition to our CVs, but it also provides an insight into a particular area of work, allowing us to develop skills as professionals along the way.
Many students have not been permitted to work in the office during the pandemic which poses many difficulties as a newcomer. For every little question you might have, it involves going out of your way to make a phone call or write an email to a colleague. The last thing you want to do in a new role is feel that you are bothering your superiors. As an intern, you may also be working with people that you’ve only met through a screen. Missing the in-person collaborative aspect of the job can make one feel isolated and out of touch with the company and fellow colleagues. Team meetings have been replaced by phone and video calls and it often may be difficult to feel part of the working team as you’re not seeing your colleagues face-to-face every day.
Like other professionals working from home, student interns might also have difficulty separating work and leisure while remote working. Gone are the days of a casual coffee break and a chat with your colleagues in the canteen, and this lack of social interaction can really affect employees.
It goes without saying that there are positive aspects to remote working including additional flexibility and fewer transport costs, but I believe students are missing out on a great opportunity with remote internships. The workplace certainly isn’t what it used to be, but it is the way forward for many companies.
However, at the end of the day an internship is an invaluable experience for a student and should be undertaken in a positive manner. With many office jobs moving online, having an introduction to this type of work may be exactly what you need before choosing a future career in that field.
If you have an internship coming up, I really urge you to make the most of it. Your new colleagues are there to help and guide you so don’t be afraid to ask questions, develop your skillset and get involved in the company in the best way you can. An online internship can be difficult, but try your very best to take advantage of this opportunity.