Editor’s Note: This piece was written in the Summer of 2020.
Hi! I’m a rising senior at the University of Southern California and will receive my degree in International Relations/Global Business with a focus in marketing next spring. This is my second summer in the AT&T Intern Program, but as you may have guessed, summer 2020 has been a different experience. Quarantine brought numerous changes in the way we live our day-to-day lives, one major change being the inability to work in the office. Starting an internship in a virtual setting is quite interesting. However, I think AT&T did a good job at making this summer feel as normal as possible.
One week before each of our virtual internship start dates a “work kit” came in the mail with a laptop, an AT&T backpack, travel mug, pens and a notebook. This simple box made the experience feel more traditional and mimicked the welcome we received during last year’s internship. We started our first day with a full schedule of more onboarding, virtual orientations, laptop tutorials, and meet & greets. Being out of the office does complicate simple things like setting up devices, asking “first day” questions, and meeting your team. However, during such an unprecedented time, the AT&T team did a great job of welcoming us without meeting in person.
On my second day I met my supervisor and team over video chat. Meeting my peers who I would be working with, learning about their roles, and how I could potentially assist them, was reassuring. It made me optimistic that this internship would still be educational, regardless of the pandemic. In addition to meeting my team, I met many fellow interns through engagement events held for the intern program. There have been different intern lunches, public speaking groups, and virtual events (like movie night!) allowing us to network and engage with interns all over the U.S. Working virtually is a vastly different experience from a traditional internship, but my experience thus far has been both productive and fun.
Virtual Internship Tips for Success
My home office doesn’t compare to the corporate space, but a virtual internship has taught me how important it is to stay disciplined and proactive. I’ve followed these three tips to make it a productive and fulfilling virtual internship experience:
- Make a schedule and stick to it: Nothing is worse than inconsistency, especially when it can affect your overall effort. Having a predetermined schedule helps you stay productive throughout the workday. Establishing what time you wake up and having an alarm set for the same time is an easy way to start. Taking lunch around the same time every day, if not at the exact same time, is also a great addition to your daily schedule. These two changes can add more structure to a fluid work environment. Don’t let working from home change how you would act if you were going into the office!
- Establish your “work spot” and create a professional setup: In addition to creating a schedule for yourself, you should create a “work spot” in your home where you work every day. Many people have family members working from home and may not be able to have an entire room to themselves. For example, I made my own space at a table in my loft. I keep my laptop, notepads and other miscellaneous work items in the same place. Our intern program welcome kit included some useful AT&T gear like mugs, pens, and a backpack, which I keep organized in the same spot. This is another way to reinforce consistency and somewhat mimic the traditional work setting.
- Fill your schedule with anything you can and stay optimistic: Working from home is an interesting experience in itself, especially as an intern. It’s important you find ways to fill your schedule with work that helps you prepare for a full-time career. Whether that’s proactively reaching out to people and scheduling calls or independently starting a learning path on AT&T’s online learning platform: Stay busy and use your time wisely. Staying proactive is important, but the only way to do that is by remaining positive. Positivity helps ensure you are doing your job the best that you can, being an effective employee, and most importantly, a great teammate.