If you’ve got a virtual or online internship / vacation scheme coming up, then follow my top five tips to help you shine.
- Dress to impress
It might be tempting to stay in your PJs but make an effort to look the part. It’s better to be over-dressed and if you’re anything like me it’ll also help with confidence – as they say, if you look good it makes you feel good. Also, make sure your surrounding area is clear of clutter and / or distractions. Also, watch out for inappropriate photos / posters on the wall behind you. Check the lighting and your seating position – having a window behind makes it harder for others to see you as it can darken your screen. Also, think about your height and, if appropriate, position your laptop on a chunky book so others don’t just get a view of your scalp. Also, sit somewhere comfortable and watch your posture because some of the sessions can be quite lengthy.
- Master the tech
I know most of you are social media whizzes but that doesn’t mean you’re immune to technical glitches. Test your web speed and ensure you’re using the right browser (some virtual platforms don’t like Safari so play it safe and stick to Google Chrome). Make sure devices are fully charged or plugged in and test your cameras and mics. Also, don’t forget to thoroughly review any registration details, including instructions to set up an account in advance etc (likewise, make a note of passwords!). Finally, turn off alerts and log out of social media platforms as they’re bound to distract you and will also potentially slow down your devices. However, if it all goes horribly wrong then call the grad rec team as soon as possible and try not catastrophise. I’m sure they’ll quickly sort you out without prejudicing your chances of bagging that all important grad job.
- Listen and wait for your turn to speak!
It’s bad enough when someone speaks over you when meeting them in person but it’s even worse on virtual conference platforms like Zoom, Hopin etc. From personal experience, when everyone starts speaking at the same time it can get really confusing and disruptive. It’s also impolite, so even though you may see yourself as the leader / spokesperson during a group exercise please remember to wait your turn. And in any event, you may even be asked to mute your devices and use the hands-up function. That said, if you’re logged on nice and early then don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to other students / participants whilst you wait for the presenters to dial in.
Virtual internships / vacation schemes are likely to be a combination of webinars and simulations – the latter are delivered on virtual platforms such as Sherpa with interns given responsibilities to deliver pieces of work, whether individually or in groups. The tasks are a simulation of the type of work you’d be expected to do in real life with all the participants delivering the same project as you. Some tasks are likely to involve interns doing presentations, which will require you to get your heads around Powerpoint (note: your buddy / supervisor should be able to provide you with an appropriate template). But remember when pulling together your slides remember less is more so stick to bullet points rather than lengthy blocks of text.
Also, it’s worth familiarising yourselves with how to share your screen with others. It’s relatively straightforward but still a good idea to practice. I’d also recommend practising presentations because take it from me – presenting to a computer screen feels quite unusual the first time you try it. But I promise you, it does become easier! That said, on the flip side if you’re a bit nervous about public speaking then presenting in front of a blank screen might be the perfect solution!
- Managing your schedule
It’s up to you to manage your schedule. Remember to keep a close eye on your itinerary and pay attention to the basics such as being punctual and indeed deadlines, especially for any ‘real’ tasks you’ve been given to complete. Just like with internships on ground, your timetable won’t simply comprise of back-to-back webinars and Q&A sessions – some gaps will be built in to give you time to experience the day-to-day responsibilities of working as a graduate in a firm / company. But if you do find you have excess capacity be proactive by seeking out work room your buddy / supervisor. And if you are doing real work remember some of it may be confidential so avoid sharing with your flatmates or family because I know when you’re involved in a project involving a client that is a household name how tempting it is to brag about it!