This past semester, I started my first civil engineering internship with Valley Water in Northern California. I have been working for about 4 months now and I’ve gotten used to working in an online professional environment.
The following are some helpful tips I’ve learned for a successful virtual internship:
- Ask questions!
- Sometimes it may feel like you are bugging your manager with lots of questions, but don’t stress out about it! They understand that you may have little to no knowledge on the specifics about your assigned projects and are always willing to help or explain things in a different way.
- Another good tip for asking questions is to ask other interns in your unit! It’s easy to send a message and ask for clarification, guidance or simply to troubleshoot an issue, especially if they are working on similar projects.
- Set up informational interviews
- A big part of internships is not only working on projects and learning, but interacting with co-workers and becoming accustomed to a professional environment. Informational interviews are a great and easy way to learn more about your co-workers and their professional accomplishments. It’s also an opportunity to network and make connections you could use in the future!
- Schedule or create time for casual chats
- With working online, a majority of the chit-chat or catching up that goes on in an office is eliminated. An easy way to have these chats is to ask how someone’s weekend was either before a meeting begins or through messaging. From there, you can find other common things to talk about and learn more about your co-workers.
- Ask for resume reviews, mock interviews, or any other types of professional development!
- My manager set up a group mock interview with all of the interns in our unit which was super helpful! We all took turns answering mock interview questions and then after each one we debriefed and discussed any other points we had for each other on how to make our answers better. I was really nervous at first, but it was such a great experience not only for practice, but to hear how other people approach interview questions!
- Request field visits if available and applicable!
- One of my favorite parts of my internship was being able to go out into the field to see projects in person. Especially as an engineer, it’s really important to be able to understand how things on paper translate to real life. It’s also a good opportunity to practice interpersonal communication skills with the crew that does the hands-on work. They will have different perspectives on the work that needs to be done which is invaluable.
My online internship has been extended into the fall semester and I’m excited to gain more work experience and learn how to further excel in a virtual environment!