Interning Remotely – 7 Most Unexpected Challenges

A girl  lying on a couch looking at her computer -Interning Remotely - 7 Most Unexpected Challenges 
Photo by Mikhail Nilov from Pexels
Photo by Mikhail Nilov from Pexels

Ideally, when you land a good internship, it signals the end of your problem for a while. Internships have always been an exciting avenue to explore new settings and gain new experiences. However, with the advent of the coronavirus, in-person internships no longer seem like a viable option. As students start to become used to studying at home, remote internships have also begun to grow in popularity. Although a remote internship seems like a good idea, interns face many challenges while interning remotely. These challenges can hit hard if you’re not prepared to handle them. That’s why we’re making you aware of them now so you can manage them better when you face them. Below are the unexpected challenges of interning remotely.

Top 4 challenges while working from...
Top 4 challenges while working from home

Time zones

Time zones will always be a problem when you’re interning internationally. And if your internship is in a different time zone, you’re always going to have an issue. Although schedules can be made flexible, one time it gets tricky is during meetings. When you’re interning, there’s always going to be a meeting or two to attend. However, the timing can get quite tricky. Some time zones might require you to be awake very late into the night or very early in the morning. It could lead to a strain on your schedule or someone being miserable always because of the timing.

There are crucial times when you might want to reach out to a partner or the leader, and they’re not available because of the timing. However, with this challenge, adaptability is vital. You need to accept that you’re working on a time shift, and it’s only part of the shift. Also, a suggestion to limit long meetings can help you adapt to your new time shift. You could also find new ways to communicate with your team by dropping messages, shifting the timing to accommodate different time zones. You could also try to find a remote internship in a time zone closer to yours to avoid the wide gap.

Time Management

Another unexpected challenge of interning remotely is time management. Most of the time, the time management issue comes out of a lack of work structure. When you have different deadlines and no set work time, you might end up using all the time on interning and no personal time for yourself. Managing time can get tricky because you have deadlines, tasks, priorities, and more to attend to. One way you can handle time management is by using time tracking software.

Most of the available tracking software allows you to log time for various tasks. This process helps you become aware of how you’re using your time. With this information, you can create a schedule you will conveniently use for your schoolwork. Also, you should adjust your schedule appropriately when lines between tasks begin to get blurred. Then, when you learn to manage your time efficiently, you will get work done and still have time for yourself.

Non-Stop Work

Most of the time, when interning the traditional way, you know when you leave the office, that’s it for the day. However, it’s not the same with a remote internship. Interns usually have no way to leave the office as the home has now become the office. Due to this, it can become challenging to separate your personal and work life. Now that you can do everything from home, it’s easy to find yourself working well into the night. People often worry that the leader might think they’re not working and then overcompensate to avoid that notion. Learn to unplug. It is essential at the end of the day, or you might begin to feel drained.

Learn to sign out when it’s time, and when you do, don’t allow yourself to get tempted to log back on. If you know you might have some trouble detaching; you can call a friend, family member, or partner and have them keep you accountable. You could have them call you or text when it’s time to sign off; this will help you avoid non-stop work.

Fragmented Team Communication

Team communication is another part that gets affected in a remote internship. When you’re not in the office, you won’t have those impromptu meetings, brainstorm, and others. Everyone’s far away from each other now, so it’s easy to feel left behind. Sometimes, you’re doubtful that you’re getting the complete picture or feel teammates consider your last. There are also specific times when you need a quick reply to your query or a timeframe when things need to get done and no one’s available. Sometimes, the internal communication tool isn’t compelling enough, and you have to wait for hours to get a simple answer.

Most of the time, strained team communication is due to different time zones. To handle team communication issues, you can try messaging platforms like Slack. Slack allows people to chat in real-time about issues immediately after they pop up. Also, you could utilize cloud platforms to share documents for everyone to view. Another good strategy is video calls. Some managers require you to leave your camera on so they can see you and get across to you whenever they need.

Technology Can be the Stumbling Stone

Too many times, office technology is quick and meets business requirements. However, there are times when your internet hookup isn’t reliable and poses an issue for you. As the internet is the only thing that connects you to your workplace when you’re interning remotely, it needs to be in optimum condition at all times. However, this is not always the case, and you might find yourself where the internet speed isn’t up to par with the job requirement. Also, a problem could be phone coverage.

Your gadgets could also fail sometimes, and during this time, you will get cut off from the rest of the people. To deal with this challenge, you should always check the service providers and run tests to see which is ideal. To avoid issues during collaborations, you should also ensure you use a file hosting service. It allows teammates to work on projects without worrying about different version issues. If you don’t have collaboration tools, you can lobby for them from the leader. Finally, ensure that you use the same technology as your team to get the best result. 

Lack of Visibility

Of course, there are advantages to not being visible, like the opportunity to work in your pajamas and have your hair up however you want. However, what this also means is that your employee won’t have you on their visual radar always. You don’t have the unique opportunity to showcase your skills in person. Due to this, there are chances that you would get passed over for projects and promotions.

Some supervisors do not have experience managing interns remotely and may assume you’re not getting work done. To deal with this, find ways to let your supervisor know what you’re up to and your accomplishment daily. You should also get videos to see you and give them a weekly recap of what you worked on. If commuting is an option, you can also try to get out of the house and show up for events even when they’re not compulsory.

Distraction

One of the significant challenges of a remote internship is distractions. Once you’re home, you can get away from anything. The dishes, laundry, and other chores are in your face. If you have children and a spouse, it gets even more tricky. Plus, when you dabble into social media, there’s nobody to get you back at work. Distractions are a common challenge and are known to hamper productivity significantly. Due to distractions, working remotely becomes a nightmare, and there are times when it compromises your work progress. Sometimes, you might have an unexpected visitor to attend to. Other times, it’s your family members getting in the way.

Staying focused is a task faced by everyone interning remotely. When you’re working, you need to find a way to fixate your attention on tasks. First, find a spot in the house that it would be easier to work peacefully. Then, take it a step further and ensure that your cellphone is out of sight. Once you’ve effectively handled the distraction, you’ll find it easy to complete a large portion of the job. Who knows? You might even have more time to kickstart a new project.

Tips to Make The Most of Your Remote Internship

Because of the pandemic, you would put on the plans you had for your internship hold. However, due to the reality of the pandemic, internships now take place remotely. However, it doesn’t mean that you cannot still get the best result out of your internship. There are many ways you can maximize your experience and still make an impression. Below are some tips to help you make the most of your remote internship. 

Set Boundaries

When you’re interning remotely, chances are you will primarily be working on projects rather than hourly. Because of this, it’s easy to treat it like homework and work till you get it done. Due to this, other aspects of your life might suffer from it. Learn to set boundaries and block time off on your calendar for your personal life. Set out a dedicated time for your internship and ensure you find a space where you won’t be disturbed. Setting boundaries will help you meet deadlines while still having enough time for your personal life. Being able to multitask is the key to a successful remote internship.

Connect with Mentors

When you’re interning remotely, you would have to sacrifice the face-time you get with teammates and colleagues in the office. However, this face-to-face connection is essential, and you have to find new ways to supplement this. Request a video meeting with your manager and connect with them. You can also connect with your peers and other colleagues in the office the same way. Doing this will help you build strong connections in the industry, and your colleagues could show you the ropes.

Learn to Communicate Regularly

Because of the distance, you cannot take advantage of the benefits of physical proximity. Connecting with the management during a remote internship can be difficult. That’s why you need to communicate regularly. Learn to discuss with your manager the methods they prefer more. Follow the channels they suggest. Update them on your weekly tasks and your progress on projects. If you have any vital questions, don’t hesitate to ask your managers about them. If possible, you can request face-to-face meetings and always prepare yourself with ideas and questions.

Request for Regular Feedback

The idea behind the internship is for you to get real-life experience of the workplace. Your internship should serve to shape your future and help you develop skillsets for your career. To be able to achieve this remotely, you have to know how good you’re doing. Asking your manager for feedback will help you grow as a professional. You can speak with the manager about changes you need to make to a project. You can also ask for suggestions and comments on the Google Sheet.

When you solicit feedback from your manager and colleagues, you need to accept the input, whether it’s positive or negative. You should always receive the critique as favorable because it will help you improve yourself. Your internship is a time to become better in your desired field; that’s why you need every piece of advice you can get.

Document Your Accomplishments

Whether you spend just a month or more in your internship, you need to keep a record of accomplishments. When you document major areas and achievements during your internship, you can reflect on your growth at the end. Documenting achievements can help you quantify the benefit of your internship. It will also come in handy for your manager as it allows them to recognize the importance of the internship program. You can also include these tasks in your resume and add the newly acquired skills to your profile.

Conclusion

A remote internship is slowly taking over as the new interning method. However, there are challenges you might face while interning remotely. Being fully aware of these challenges can help you prepare to deal with them appropriately. We’ve provided time zones and six other unexpected challenges of interning remotely and how you can deal with these challenges. We’ve also offered tips to help you make the most of your remote internship. Nothing should hold you back from enjoying the full benefits of your internship. With this insight, your remote internship will be a breeze. 

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