Onboarding on my Own?
Beginning an internship at the start of a global pandemic is not something I would recommend, if of course one had the choice…but it hasn’t been impossible. My first day at Skillsoft, I showed up to the office in Boston to work for three hours. The office had closed to employees the previous week, basically, I was there to pick up my laptop, get to know how to use it, see my desk I’ll probably never sit at, and head home. In fact, my boss and I were practically the last people in the office because everyone else shifted to remote work.
With all this said, starting off was a bit strange. On my second day, I was back home in New Hampshire. For the first few weeks, my interactions were very limited with people in the company other than my boss. I had documents to read through, videos to watch, and meetings to sit it on. Surprisingly, getting acclimated was simpler than I anticipated, especially considering how I was sitting on my couch by myself over two hours from the office. It certainly helped that my amazing manager was only a Microsoft Teams message away and still is, that she would have a video call with me at least once a day to see how I was doing. Of course, it has also been nice having my co-worker, as seen below, working next to me.
Navigating the Job
At this internship, I have been able to schedule my own hours since the beginning. When I started, I was finishing up my semester (albeit virtually), so I was working around 20 hours per week. I let my boss know the hours I would be online, and I signed on and off each day just as a check point. She would assign me tasks when I was offline so that when I signed on, I knew what I had to tackle for that day or the next few days. I slowly met more and more individuals through meetings and virtual coffee breaks which made embracing the team and company culture a bit easier.
When I started, I was the first and only intern. It stayed that way for about a month and a half until Beth joined. Once she was onboarding, we began working together and slowly the actual intern program began as Amanda and Alessandra came on as well.
With this came Lunch & Learns, meeting more people in the company, having “Meet the Expert” sessions with people outside of the company in the communications field that we could learn from, and more. We also were invited to create short PowerPoint presentations about ourselves to share with the global marketing teams (yes, a bit terrifying). With all of this newness and expanding of my knowledge of the company, the industry, the communications/marketing field and meeting everyone, it was certainly overwhelming at points.
While on this journey of a remote internship, I have learned many lessons. The biggest takeaways for me so far have been:
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions. It is okay not to know or understand something and chances are, you aren’t the only one wondering it.
- Say yes. If within your ability, say yes to attending a meeting, working on a new project, writing a draft of an email or blog. This is how you grow and expand your knowledge as well as your network.
- When things start to get hectic, make sure you are taking time for you. This is one I really struggle with since I am always one to jump on new projects even if that means starting early and ending late. Don’t be afraid to say you can’t make a meeting or that you have the day off.
- Remember at the end of the day you are an intern, not a full-time employee. You are not expected to be available 24/7 and you shouldn’t be. It is easy to get caught up in exciting projects and tasks but remember that you are still human and have a life outside of the job.
While these are helpful tips for me, they may seem like common sense to others. As an introvert, I have had to learn to be comfortable asking questions and saying yes to opportunities. I have also had to learn to be comfortable with saying no when getting overwhelmed with tasks. For an extrovert, it may be the opposite. Regardless of where you fall on the extroversion scale or what job you find yourself doing, it is important to always assess what you have learned and how you can use these lessons moving forward. Starting a new role is always going to be a bit scary, but I hope these lessons serve as a guiding tool when you find yourself starting your next new adventure.