One of the many highlights of an internship experience is getting to know not only your boss and company workers, but the other interns! Happy hours are frequent after work and coffee trips before getting to the office are often standard. Just because you are completing a virtual internship doesn’t mean you are stranded on a deserted island in the networking realm of your experience. There are still plenty of ways to network and “befriend” the other interns (or company workers, boss, etc.) even though you don’t see them face-to-face every single day (or ever!)
I explained briefly in my first The Intern View post here my virtual internship experience with Intern Queen and the three other interns, Chandra, Kayla and Alyssa. We worked together all summer for our internship and although I’ve never met them face-to-face, I would consider them friends on both a personal and a professional level. At my internship with the Muscular Dystrophy Association two summers ago, I had weekly conference calls with the other Regional Public Affairs Coordinators (the title used for our internship position) around the country. Again, I hadn’t met any of these students in real life, but we still communicate today.
So you’re probably thinking the two main questions? HOW did I network and “become friends” with fellow interns even though we were strangers miles away from each other? Social media. I would suggest using social media to connect with other interns even if you are sitting at the office next to each other, but it has been so beneficial in my virtual internship experience. I’m sure most of you have personal Facebook and Twitter accounts–but you can use them for more than just fun, silly use. Here’s how I utilized each social media site during and after my internship and why it will be helpful to network with your fellow interns!
1. Facebook: Adding the interns as Facebook friends allows you to learn more about the fellow interns and communicate in a more informal atmosphere. This can go beyond “Facebook creeping” but actually using this network to work other interns!
2. Reading their personal blog: Keeping updated with your fellow intern (hopefully a new friend) on their blog allows you to read their experiences, again personally and professionally. This gives you a little taste of who they are and what they are all about. A gal from MDA read my blog and found out I loved the Pittsburgh Penguins and will still drop me a line to chat about it. Blogging also allows YOU to communicate your interests, hobbies, lifestyle, etc. to the other interns—and anyone who reads the blog.
3. Twitter: Twitter allowed me to communicate quickly with Chandra, Alyssa and Kayla this past summer while interning. I would tweet them articles that I thought they would enjoy and vice-versa. Utilizing this social media outlet has allowed us to network even beyond the internship period. It also inspired an upcoming collaboration that Chandra and I planned for student-run fashion magazines. We decided to create a Twitter chat #CampusFashion and have worked together to launch the conversation via Twitter. Without “getting to know” Chandra through Twitter, the #CampusFashion collaboration wouldn’t be put into effect. More info about #CampusFashion on my blog here.
Although it can be a challenge to get to know other interns when you don’t live and work near them, it’s not an impossible task. Social media makes it easier to communicate and network with other interns and become more than just “coworkers” but friends. A vital part of the internship experience is getting to know those you work with so take the time to “meet” your other interns virtually!
Andrea Teggart is a senior at the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, and the P.R. chief of Thread Magazine. She is studying public relations journalism and retail merchandising, and is also involved with University Program Council and Student Senate. Follow Andrea on twitter @luckyAndi, or read her blog updates here.
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