Campus Life
Remote interns share their best work-from-home tips
by Sulvey Polanco | May 20, 2020

We can work from home.

Interning is a quintessential part of the post-secondary experience. It helps students get hands-on experience in their chosen field, gain industry knowledge from professionals, and build up their resume so they’re ready for the workforce come graduation.

Unfortunately, self-isolation has put a damper on our summer interning endeavours. Internships across the country are being cancelled due to COVID-19 and the job market is looking more scarce than ever.

A survey done by Yello found that a whopping 64% of internships cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic have not offered students compensation, either. So, bottom line, this pandemic has been no good for the student workforce.

Luckily, some interns have gotten the chance to continue their internships remotely–which surely comes with its challenges.

Though not ideal, remote internships can still be a good thing. They offer a chance to continue learning while keeping the student job-market flowing–well… if you’re prepared.

If you’re looking for advice to make your remote internship experience a good one, you’ve come to the right place. These Humber and Guelph-Humber students have come to share their tips, tricks, and lessons learned when it comes to working from home.

Without further ado:

Photo of SNL actor saying, "Let's intern."

Maya Marcus | Promotions Intern at Universal Music Canada | Media Studies (PR) | Guelph-Humber | Fourth Year | @maya.n.marcus

Photo of Universal Music intern, Maya Marcus, smiling and sitting on a white car.

What does your typical day as a remote intern consist of?

My day starts off by logging into all necessary communication sites (Slack, Outlook, etc), and logging into my virtual monitor. I use something called Amazon Workspace since I was not able to receive a work computer. Throughout the day, I receive various tasks from my managers, I may have a few Zoom meetings in between and I ask a LOT of questions. It’s always more difficult to grasp new concepts when the person isn’t there teaching you.

How are you keeping motivated/productive from home?

Deadlines! Whether they are set by myself or my manager, deadlines are definitely something that has kept me on my toes during this process. I try my best to make lists and prioritize tasks for the day so that I’m organized, and I don’t get overwhelmed. Learning new content over email explanations and Zoom calls is already difficult enough, so I always try to make things easier for myself.

What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned so far?

It is better to pester your manager with tons of questions than act on a whim and do something wrong. On my first couple of days at my internship, I really wanted to prove that I could take on all the tasks and do all the things – but that’s not what it’s all about. It’s a learning experience, so my superiors expected me not to know some things and make mistakes here and there.

What are your top work from home tips for other students?

  1. Don’t go online at the last second, you should still have a morning routine. Treat it like you’re getting up to go to work or school.
  2. Make sure your Zoom handle is work-appropriate BEFORE the first call with your manager (I learned this the hard way).
  3. Be open-minded, respond to emails quickly, and if you don’t know something, Google is, and always will be, your best friend,

Jeff Hostetter | Digital Strategist at Waves Digital | Advertising & Marketing Communications | Lakeshore Campus | Second Year | @jeffhostetter_

Photo of Waves Digital intern, Jeff Hostetter, smiling in front of brick wall.

What does your typical day as a remote intern consist of?

My typical days as a remote intern begins by waking up at 8 a.m. and pouring myself a coffee for our team Zoom calls at 9 a.m. We discuss our goals and tasks for the day, and then get working! Throughout the day, our team consistently messages each other via a group chat, to keep each other updated on what we’re doing. My job consists of doing web design, social media management, and graphics!

How are you keeping motivated/productive from home?

Though it can be hard to keep motivated, I do so by playing some exciting music, drinking coffee, and having conversations with some friends (when I’m on break, of course).

What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned so far?

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned through this internship is that self-motivation and willpower are essential to succeed. Though it’s been tempting to just take a break and watch some Netflix, in order to get the work done to the best of my ability, I can’t do that.

What is your top work-from-home tip for other students?

Have consistent communication with your co-workers. Getting side-tracked is easy in the comfort of home, so if you can keep each other motivated you’ll be way more productive!

Abbey Cole | Social Media Coordinator at JADA Topicals | Media Studies (PR) | Guelph-Humber | Fourth Year | @waytooshabbey

Photo of JADA Topicals Intern, Abbey Cole, smiling in room.

What does your typical day as a remote intern consist of?

I check emails, create graphics, and connect with my boss and the interns I manage. I organize three Instagram pages, one LinkedIn page, three Twitter accounts and three Facebook accounts. I need to make sure the interns and I are interacting with people, utilizing the daily hashtags and hopping on trending topics.

How are you keeping motivated/productive from home?

I keep motivated by keeping a schedule. My #1 CliftonStrength is Achiever, so I need checklists to feel like I accomplished something every day. I have lots of tasks to tackle. I also like connecting with the interns I’m managing to make sure they’re on the right track.

What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned so far?

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned so far is that everything needs to be streamlined. All tasks and coordination need to go from point A to B without getting caught up and having ideas or tasks lost in translation. I also learned it’s important to keep up with your own schedule and task list because there is no one to tell me to stay on task. I’ve learned some people cannot work without that invisible hand or push, so I have to work with them to make sure I am available to help.

What are your top work from home tips for other students?

  1. Have a planner.
  2. Use Google Calendar.
  3. Book real meetings on Facetime, Zoom, or Microsoft Teams.
  4. Check-in with everyone on your team individually.
  5. Give yourself a working timeframe. Don’t overwork and leave work around after your shift is over. Since you can’t technically leave work at work, it’s important to check out whenever possible. Log out of your account and turn off your work notifications. Set boundaries!

Hailey Appel | Copywriting Intern at Jack.Org | Bachelor of Creative Advertising | Lakeshore Campus | Fourth Year | @hailey_appel

Photo of Jack.org intern, Hailey Appel, smiling in front of door and staircase.

What does your typical day as a remote intern consist of?

I start off by checking our various communications platforms to see what’s scheduled for the day. At Jack.org, we use a few different platforms to manage work; I’ll check Google Calendar for any meetings, Asana to see if I have any projects due, and Slack for any messages from teammates. Once I have a sense of my work schedule for the day, I make a to-do list of the things I need to get done and work through them based on priority while taking a stretch break at least once an hour. I hop on any meetings I have, chat with my awesome team, get everything urgent done first and update my manager and team. At the end of the day, I’ll start a to-do list for the next day with tasks I didn’t get to, and take a break from my screen.

How are you keeping motivated/productive from home? 

It’s a challenge to feel productive at all times, but I do my best to stay on top of things! Getting moving in the morning and taking breaks regularly helps me be productive. I don’t have a dedicated office space at home so I work at the desk in my room. I try and keep my room as clean as possible to not get distracted when I’m working. My to-do list helps me feel motivated and productive because I love to cross things off and know that I’m accomplishing what I need to. When all else fails, a good Spotify playlist always helps me feel motivated.

What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned so far?

The biggest lessons I’ve learned is to over-communicate and listen to my body. Because I’m working from my bedroom and not in an office, it’s hard for others to see that I’m constantly working. It’s important to provide regular updates on the things I’m doing for my team–that’s why we love using Asana to manage our tasks and post updates/changes as they come. When it comes to listening to my body, I try and stay in tune with if I’m feeling stiff or hungry or overworked. It’s easy to really zone in for long periods of time when there are no distractions, so it’s really important to stay tuned in and not go too hard for too long.

What is your top work from home tips for other students?

I think my #1 thing is to incorporate movement into your day. In a regular office space, you wouldn’t be spending your entire day sitting in one place, you’d be taking breaks, moving around, and chatting with co-workers. It’s important to incorporate those things into at-home work too! Whether that means moving around to different spaces of your house/apartment to work, having virtual coffee or lunch chats with co-workers, or creating a make-shift standing desk, these things make work more manageable for me.

Rusneet K. Manchanda | Research Analyst at McMaster University | Research Analyst Postgraduate Certificate | Lakeshore Campus | @rusneet0606

Photo of Research Analyst at McMaster University, Rusneet K. Manchanda, smiling.

What does your typical day as a remote intern consist of?

My typical workday starts at 8:30 a.m. and lasts until 4:30 p.m. I start my day by checking my emails and calendar to make sure that I am up-to-date with my tasks and meetings. I usually have a meeting with my supervisor or other stakeholders. In addition to this, I work on the project that I have been assigned to do.

How are you keeping motivated/productive from home?

To make sure that I am feeling motivated and productive to work, I usually get ready before 8:30 a.m. (getting out of pyjamas really does help). I try to take some breaks depending on my day’s schedule and have set up a workspace surrounded by minimal distractions.

What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned so far?

It has been two weeks of my internship, but I have realized that having a “work” mindset is very important to stay on top of things. Even though I’m not sitting in an office, I’m still supposed to do the work with professional conduct. It is really important to maintain regular contact with your supervisor and to make sure that you are on the right track.

What are your top work from home tips for other students?

  1. Communicate with your supervisor and other team members. If something is not clear, schedule a meeting with them.
  2. If you have designated work hours, then work during those hours and keep the rest of the day for yourself (if you were in an office, you would still be working for just those hours).
  3. Even though you are working from home, maintain professional conduct!

Gif of man saying, "You have taught me more than anybody else."

Thank you for the words of wisdom, interns.

Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.


Craving more student-focused content? Check out the biggest lessons students have learned this year!

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