Due to COVID-19, many companies had to change from in-person internships to remote internships during spring 2020. We asked a few students about their experience of moving to a remote internship. Below is feedback from two ERAU Daytona Beach students.
Discuss the transition from an in person internship to remote.
I don’t know if I can accurately answer this. Rolls-Royce has been set up for remote and flexible working for at least a few years now, so we already had laptops, VPN access, and conferencing systems. Things stayed relatively the same – my manager and I still had our regular 1:1’s, I still attended our regularly scheduled staff meetings, etc. We use WebEx for live team communication (both audio and visual), and email for general communication. -Daytona Beach student
My transition from an in person internship to a remote internship was very smooth with the help of NASA work processes, They gave me all the equipment and resources I needed to telework before the pandemic escalated into lockdown. NASA trains its workers to be telework proficient just in case something like this were to happen. We had telework rehearsal days where everyone on center would telework for a day just to see how the computers hold up and how the workers can manage while not being face to face. We were able to take home our computers and monitors, as well as any other paper resources we needed to complete our job. –Alexa Manssa, Daytona Beach student
What tips do you have for fellow students who will be starting a remote internship this summer?
Remote internships are not easy, especially when you are trying to adjust to a new work environment and learn the processes. As engineers, we expect to always be interacting with people and hardware in order to get our jobs done. However, you can be just as innovative and progressive while working from home. Take this opportunity and dedicate your time to perfecting your craft, take advantage of all of the resources you may be provided. As engineers it is always important to continue learning and progressing, we are taught to figure things out. You can treat this remote internship as a challenge and to use your communication skills in coordination with your technical skills. Communication is so important in this environment, be sure to always keep your supervisors/mentors in the loop if you need anything. There will always be people to help you if you really needed assistance with anything, it’s important to know you are not alone in this transition. –Alexa Manssa, Daytona Beach student
I started this rotation in the office, and then transitioned to remote. This means I learned the role and the people before I went remote. Students starting in the summer will not have that luxury. It’s important to get to know the team and the projects you’ll be working with. I have to imagine video (not just audio) calling would be helpful, so that people can put a face to the voice/email. I would also say it’s better to over communicate than under communicate, especially at the beginning. -Daytona Beach student
If you could give companies advice for their remote interns, what would it be.
Get IT systems etc. prepared BEFORE the intern starts. They should be able to log in to their computer and have all of the access they need in the first ten minutes of their first day. During first rotation, where I didn’t know anything at all about Rolls-Royce systems, the first couple of weeks were spent trying to figure out what access I needed and how to request it. It’s also important for interns to know what the projects they will be working on are and how to do them. Create, perhaps, a slide pack that describes the history, background, needed actions, desired result, and how to go about doing the project (generally) all in one place. -Daytona Beach student
If companies can create a task plan for the interns to follow so that they can stay on track, that would be really helpful for breaking down assignments. Also, I think having a new employee guide manual could be an efficient way to introduce the new interns to the company since they will be missing their orientation. Even having a zoom orientation may be beneficial for the new interns who may be worried about the transition. –Alexa Manssa, Daytona Beach student
What has been the biggest lesson you have learned working from home as an intern?
I learned that remote working is a lot more reasonable in today’s world. I will not hesitate to do some small things from home in the future or to take a day to work from home if I’m not feeling well. I see now that business can continue as normal, even when remote working. -Daytona Beach student
The biggest takeaway from this partial remote internship is the importance of communication. This doesn’t necessarily pertain to just work related tasks, you have to know how to communicate your work/life responsibilities with your supervisor. You may not think life will impact you and you’ll have all the time in the world to get work done, but you will eventually realize that being in a house with people could impact your progression. I lived with my family while I was doing my remote internship and I had home obligations that I could not ignore. I communicated this to my supervisor and she was able to set up a schedule with me so I can balance my work and life duties. Communication is always an essential skill to have. –Alexa Manssa, Daytona Beach student