Excited to begin my Summer internship, I looked forward to meeting and learning from PR savvy individuals, attending morning meetings in the office, getting settled at my desk and occasionally chatting with my colleagues by the water dispenser as seen on TV shows and movies. This perceived image came to a halt as COVID-19 continued to invade major cities and new cases surged. As a result, here are 5 tips that I have learned from my experience as an intern during a global pandemic.
Communication played an important role throughout my internship. Zoom calls helped keep everyone in the loop during our daily morning meetings. This was a great touchpoint to ensure that the essential tasks were still completed.
Without Zoom, we might not have seen each other at all. Emails and phone calls just don’t cut it. The app also served as a fundamental tool for training and asking questions since working in public relations requires you to learn new programs.
Staying connected and making an extra effort to communicate effectively made me feel less alone as I was reminded that I could count on support from everyone.
Working from home can certainly be challenging. For instance, making sure I had zero distractions and a clear workspace played a factor in helping me maintain focus and enhance my productivity. Working virtually can provide a variety of extra challenges like internet problems or interruptions from roommates. I learned early on that I needed to set boundaries for myself to be successful.
First, I made sure that my workspace was as private as possible to minimize distractions. Then I worked on staying as organized as possible by setting up a daily planner. I started every day by laying out my priorities and noting the questions I needed to find answers for.
This dedication to planning out each day ultimately helped me keep my focus and stay on schedule. Maintaining a personal system of organization is essential for any industry. e.
Take a Break
This sounds like an easy concept but is more difficult to put into practice. As an intern trying to pave my way into the public relations industry and make a name for myself, I would always try to complete all of my tasks at once. I wanted to go above and beyond by offering my assistance to others and take on more and more responsibility. However, because I aimed to achieve everything at once, I sometimes ended up overwhelmed and burnt out.
I wanted to prove to myself and others that I could work independently and finish assignments immediately but by doing so I was neither being efficient nor effective. Of course, it is encouraged to have goals and ambition, but we have to set realistic expectations and give ourselves a break.
Ultimately, I learned that it is okay to step away from my laptop and take some time for myself. Sometimes a quick break from the screen to stretch or grab a glass of water will even bring you a fresh perspective on the issue you’re tackling.
Be Flexible and Confident
During my internship, I learned that I needed to not only use the job skills I already had, but also learn and adapt to working remotely. Knowing I did not have the luxury to learn from others in-person meant I had to refine my technical skills to work more independently. I ended up finding that in many cases I had the knowledge and capability to accomplish more than I thought.
As my experience went on, my problem-solving skills and knowledge of PR strategies became stronger and I felt more confident. In the end, I think it may have been a blessing in disguise because I proved to myself and my coworkers what I can do. Although any new internship or job experience can be intimidating, it’s important to lead with confidence. You were chosen for a reason and your education and past experience have prepared you to succeed.
Now I know that I can move forward with an additional set of specific skills that I otherwise wouldn’t have had. I had the unique experience of seeing firsthand the changes that clients and everyday people are being forced to make with the growing prevalence of remote jobs.
This internship experience has ultimately taught me the importance of staying positive. When I think back, the saying “This Too Shall Pass” comes to mind, and it is especially relevant in a time like this. We are all doing what we can to continue on in every facet of life during the global pandemic.
I took comfort in the fact that remote work is a learning curve for many. Maybe sometimes we have technical problems with Zoom or there is a miscommunication by email, but coming to work prepared to learn and adapt is what is most important.
From the beginning of my professional journey, I underestimated myself because I was concerned about making sure I made the right impression and making sure I was completing tasks when asked. The truth is that a global pandemic throws what is normal out the window. Many days it takes a toll, but I knew that I was sharing this experience with my colleagues and professionals in every industry. COVID-19 may have changed my expectations, but it did not take away from my overall positive internship experience at The Hoyt Organization.