The purpose of an internship is to apply what the student has learned during their studies in practice and to help structure theoretical knowledge. Internship differs from other employment relationships in that the key objective is learning with the support of a supervisor. The focus is not only on the content of the work in relation to the field of study, but also getting to know the work community, different working methods, the organisation and its stakeholders.
In times of corona, many university students complete their internships remotely. What should the intern take into account?
Tips for students
Job management and planning
In remote work, the management and planning of your own work are more important than ever. Remember to schedule your work, utilise your calendar, set up work stations, take breaks, prepare for the day, and build a work environment.
As a student, you might already be an expert in the management of your own work. Remote work is very similar to university studies which involve a lot of independent work in different locations. If you have good practices or tried out operating models, you can also share them with your work community!
Remote work in your own home affects everyone in a different way. Don´t forget to monitor and maintain your own well-being. You can create suitable working conditions for yourself by e.g. setting up a work station, separating work from leisure time with certain routines, taking enough breaks and working periodically between breaks.
Independent remote work might also require more planning. You can mark goals for each work day in your calendar. In addition to meetings, planning, preparation or research tasks can also be marked in the calendar, making it easier for you to manage your time.
As you quickly digitalise your work, you will certainly learn a lot about remote work tools and communication methods. You also get to practise ways of managing your own work (skills in self-management and time management).
Places of work typically have silent knowledge, such as operating methods that have not been expressed. It may be more difficult to access silent knowledge remotely. However, you will adopt this silent knowledge gradually along the way. Informal events and discussions provide insight into the dynamics of the work community. You can also actively ask about informal meetings and practices at the workplace.
Health care services
As an employed intern, you are within the scope of the employer’s occupational health care. You can also turn to student health care if there are any problems. If you experience inappropriate treatment or if the employer does not act as agreed in the employment or internship agreement, you should contact your university.
Asking for help
Don´t hesitate to ask for help if something is unclear. Supervising the internship remotely might also be new for your supervisor so they may not even think to ask about your situation. You don´t have to solve all problems alone! On top of the supervisor, you can also contact the university staff if you have any difficulties.
You can talk to the supervisor about dividing the internship period into sections. At certain milestones, you and your supervisor can check the progress of your tasks, achieved goals and questions raised during the internship. It is often easier to discuss these matters if you have written them down along the way. You can also agree with your instructor on a suitable method for forwarding your questions between the milestone discussions.
Tips for supervisors
In remote work situations, you should make sure that the intern knows what to do in the work community in case of e.g. illness, how working hours are monitored or where they can get support on the use of the tools and software required for the work.
Contact during internship
Maintaining contact with the intern is also important during a remote internship. At the beginning of the internship, you can already schedule discussion times at suitable intervals. You can also set up a way with the intern for them to send their questions and observations also between agreed discussions.
Information should be shared as clearly as possible. You should also make sure that the intern receives enough good-quality feedback even in remote work conditions.
Take time for the student
You might need to reserve more time for orientation when you do it remotely. During remote orientation, interaction will be different and things may have to be repeated more frequently.
You should make sure you have enough time for guidance meetings during the internship and try to create an atmosphere that is as confidential as possible.
Setting and tracking goals
A good way of starting guidance discussions is to talk about the set goals. You should also give special attention to ensuring that work tasks are completed successfully and that the student is working periodically. It is easy to overlook things during remote internship guidance supervision
Introduction to the work community
Since the student cannot get to know the members of the work community at the workplace, it is a good idea to pay particular attention to how introductions are managed remotely so that the new employee feels welcome and safe. For example, you can schedule meetings or discussions with other employees than the supervisor.
Introduction to the organisation
Getting to know the training organisation can require creativity in remote work. Maybe the intern could also participate in meetings that are not directly related to their duties but could broaden their vision of the organisation and its activities?
- Materials available to the intern
- Access to necessary systems
- Introduction to the use of remote systems
- IT support
- Agreed orientation times
- Agreed times for discussions during the internship
- Introduction to the community
- Introduction to the organisation
- Getting to know community practices
- Information about working hours and sick leave
- Review of the situation at the beginning, in the middle and at the end: goals, workflow, working methods
- Feedback opportunity
- Opportunity to get/ask for help