As much as I wonder what it would be like working an in-person internship, I have found many benefits of working virtually. Being a part of a CEA virtual internship abroad has given me the ability to travel wherever I want while working at the same time. I have also been able to take on more professional development opportunities, such as a second internship and an IBM Accelerate program that I wouldn't have been able to do if I were working abroad.
Working a virtual internship doesn’t come without its challenges. Here are some tips I would recommend to anyone considering working a virtual internship, whether it is abroad or in the United States.
Finding Your Workspace
I have found it challenging to find places to get my work done efficiently in a virtual environment. While working a virtual internship, I have the flexibility to work anywhere, which is great because I love to travel; however, it is difficult to find a balanced work routine. My work schedule is never the same each week, which means I need to experiment with finding the right places to be productive. Even though it can be tough to adjust to different places, I enjoy seeing the different scenery and challenging myself to work in different situations. For example, my home is currently in Iowa and my family also owns a condo in downtown Chicago. I have truly enjoyed being able to take advantage of using our Chicago condo to work in this summer. I love seeing the view of the city while I’m working, and I enjoy all the city has to offer during my off-work time.
Managing Your Time
Depending on where I am, some weeks can be harder to manage my time than others. What has helped me is designating a certain amount of time to work where I won’t have any distractions around me. I try to keep my phone away from me during my work hours. This helps me be more productive, because I do not get distracted by texts or social media. Another distraction for me is talking to the people in my environment about non-work-related topics. I am very sociable and I really enjoy talking to people, but when it prevents me from getting my work done, I have to find a room where I can be alone so I can concentrate on my work tasks. Keeping a calendar is another essential time management piece. People usually use some combination of paper or electronic calendar. I like to use Google Calendar to record all of my assignment due dates, project due dates, meetings, and scheduled work times. Having all of my tasks laid out on one app makes it easier for me to see what needs to be done.
Everyone has a different work style that suits them the best. Working a virtual internship abroad has allowed me to figure out how to manage my time and figure how I work the best for my internships this summer and beyond!
Brianna Bentler is the Summer 2021 CEA MOJO Blogger in Dublin, Ireland, and is currently studying at University of Iowa.