How to Make a Good First Impression During a Virtual Internship

Discover these simple yet highly effective strategies to build positive relationships, demonstrate your impact and make the best impression at your virtual internship.
Jasmine Mun_Writer_gradmalaysia_round
Jasmine Mun
Writer, gradmalaysia
How to Make a Good First Impression During a Virtual Internship_mainphoto

If you’re doing an internship soon, you may be in for a different experience than you anticipated, as many internship programmes are still conducted virtually. Creating a good first impression in a virtual internship can be a challenge, especially when so many of us are used to standing out and interacting with others physically. A virtual internship may also appear less exciting than a physical one without the in-person workplace connections, i.e. luncheons, meetings and team-bonding activities.

Nevertheless, there are multiple ways to shine from afar and make a lasting, positive impression as a virtual intern. Here are some simple and effective strategies to help you connect with and impress the people at your internship regardless if you’re sitting behind a screen or in the office.

Brush Up On Your Professionalism

You may be “just an intern” hustling out of a corner of your bedroom instead of from a cubicle, but that doesn’t mean you can let loose on acting professionally and responsibly. An internship is a time for you to demonstrate your worth and show that you are taking your role seriously. Your employer may even offer you a spot with the company if you perform well.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Dress Appropriately: Since the internship is virtual, team meetings and supervisor discussions will happen online through video-based platforms, such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Meet.  Make sure you’re not lounging around in your pajamas, because you never know when you may need to switch on your camera! It’s important to showcase your best to the attendees who’ll be watching you.
  • Be Punctual: Virtual meetings may seem casual but that doesn’t mean you can arrive late! Once you know which online platform the meeting will be held on, promptly create an account for it and set up your profile. On the day of the meeting, make sure to log in a few minutes earlier and join the meeting on time.
  • Be Responsive: Since your team can’t see you in person, your attendance will be largely based on your responsiveness through video calls, emails, or texts. With that, it’s more important than ever to demonstrate that you’re present, engaged and working by answering your emails and text messages promptly. If you’ll be away from your keyboard, notify your team and supervisor in advance.  

Take Initiative

It goes without saying that employers value interns that volunteer and take initiative, whether during virtual or physical internships. As an intern, you need to demonstrate responsibility by taking the initiative to request for projects rather than just wait for assignments. That way, you’ll not only create a good impression by showing them your sense of ownership, but you’ll also maximise your learning outcomes as an intern.

During online discussions, do your best to keep up on what your colleagues are working on, and ask questions about their tasks and targets if you need clarification. This will help give you a fuller picture of the company and its goals, but may also help you discover additional areas of work that may possibly be of interest to you.

Make a point of asking your supervisor for regular feedback and potential points of improvement as well. This shows your commitment to continuous improvement as well as your willingness to learn. You can also try talking to them about other areas of work that you’re interested in trying out if it is within their capacity to assign you to those.

Speak Up

Be proactive, not passive. Don’t be shy about sharing your ideas and opinions or asking questions when you’re in doubt. As an intern, remember that you play a key role in bringing a fresh perspective to the table.

That said, be mindful of when is the right time to speak up. For instance, during meetings, it’s better to listen more than you speak (unless what you have to say is really important). But during discussions or brainstorming sessions, then that’s when you want to make yourself heard! Also, it’s better to speak up in the midst of a topic of discussion when it’s still fresh in everyone’s minds, rather than leave it till the end when the attendees are signing off.

Similarly, if you have questions or are confused about how something works, don’t keep it to yourself. If you find it uncomfortable to ask for clarification during a team-wide meeting, chat with or text a colleague or your supervisor individually after the meeting.

If you’re a virtual intern, you may find it tough to establish familiarity with your colleagues. Online communication is always going to be slightly awkward, after all. (Rest assured, everyone else feels this way too.) Learn to embrace the awkwardness, and give yourself a week or two to get used to communicating online. But don’t stay idle for too long!