Unprecedented Employment: How to Survive (and thrive!) During Your Quarantine Internship

Posted on August 27, 2020

Olivia Goemans, Intern

We’re all tired of hearing about it, but we’re living through unprecedented times. Almost every aspect of life has been impacted by COVID-19: social lives, jobs, school, and even grocery shopping. One aspect many students – including myself – were not prepared for was the impact on internships. 

Flashback to the fall of 2019. I thought I had it all figured out. I had secured an internship and was enjoying the last half of my degree, feeling prepared and excited for the future. What I would give to feel that same self-assuredness about my future now! COVID-19 hit in an unrelenting way, knocking myself and many of my classmates off our feet. Like many others, I lost my work placement due to hiring freezes and I know that many other Mount Royal University public relations (PR) students were struck with overwhelming anxiety about what this would mean for our futures.  What was going to happen with school? How would we complete our internships? If we didn’t complete one, how would we fulfill the requirements for our degree?

Bring forth the light amidst overwhelming darkness and my glimmer of hope: an internship posting at Brookline Public Relations. As a Mount Royal University PR student, you hear about Brookline early on. Shauna and her team participate in guest lectures starting in the first year of the program, establishing themselves as a company that sees the opportunity in our program. I knew I had to apply.

Lucky for me, I made the cut! I dove right into client work with guidance from my mentors and the rest of the amazing team at Brookline. Though an internship entirely online is unconventional, and I was the first to navigate this role for Brookline, everyone worked hard to ensure that I learned a lot and made the best use of my time.

As a now self-professed expert on all things “virtual-intern”, I’ve compiled a list of my tips and tricks for making the most of your COVID-19 work experience.

Set your space up for success

There is nothing worse than a cluttered workspace that just doesn’t work. Ensure that you have a functional space for all your WFH needs, like good lighting, a comfortable seat, an ergonomic setup for your computer, and a quiet room where you won’t be disturbed.

Get dressed like it’s the real deal

Getting ready for your workday can have a positive impact on your productivity and preparedness. Research shows that the clothes you wear can have an impact on your emotions, and how you look and feel on the outside can change how you feel on the inside. While sweats might be tempting, I encourage you to dress as if your coworkers will see you on more than just a small Zoom screen. Being put together can make you feel good – and feeling good makes work better!

Communicate, communicate, communicate

Working remotely can be difficult even for teams who know each other well. Being the new person has its challenges even when you are in an office setting. I was lucky enough to receive scheduled one-on-ones with everyone at Brookline in the first week of my internship, where I took that opportunity to ask about preferred communication styles and how best to contact my new colleagues. This helped me to figure out how to navigate each of my client accounts and helped me discover that my mentors were always only a text away.Communication is key for remote working. If you need clarification, ask. If you’re confused, ask. If you want to strengthen your relationship with your coworkers and know about their life, ask!

I’m sure everyone is holding out for the day when we can return to ‘normal’. Who knows how long digital internships will last, but this is our normal for now and it’s best to buckle down and make the most of it. I am incredibly grateful for my time at Brookline and will be forever indebted to Shauna and the team for opening their door to a student who had frankly lost hope during a time of crisis. Thank you and good luck to future interns!

Olivia Goemans is an Intern at Brookline Public Relations. Olivia is passionate about all things creative and loves the opportunity to think outside the box and get ‘weird’.