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  • Erin Greenawald 9:36 pm on October 5, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: , cowokers, , , , gchat, working virtually   

    The Good, the Bad, and the Gchat: On Working Virtually 

    As I mentioned last week, my work for The Daily Muse doesn’t usually involve fun times with my co-workers—or any time with my co-workers. My work usually looks a little more like this —>

    Admittedly, this picture was taken during a day that I did get to spend at our co-working space in NYC, but you get the idea. Just me and my computer, getting chummy. Starting last August, I have worked 10—and now 20—hours a week virtually, in various locations and states of dress (read: I don’t always look that cute).

    There are a lot of things I love about working virtually. The biggest perk is that it’s continually given the the opportunity to work for a company I’m really excited about, but that is unfortunately not in the city I’m living in. When I first applied to The Daily Muse, I was a week away from moving to Copenhagen for a semester. I was worried they would turn me down because of my international situation, but they were completely on board. (Thank goodness.) Plus, I can pretty much work whenever, wherever, and wearing whatever I want. As your typical way-too-busy AU student, this is key.

    But as great as it sounds not to have to show up in your best business casual every day, there’s a dark side to working virtually, too. The hardest thing for me has been not having face-to-face interaction with my co-workers. As I learned over the summer when I did get to work in person with them, my co-workers are pretty awesome, and face-to-face time leads to a lot of great things: socializing, brainstorming, coffee breaks, collaboration, happy hours, joking around, more coffee breaks. My managing editor and I try to mimic it by sending each other links to Editor Real Talk or pictures of cute puppies over Gchat, but it’s just not the same.

    So, now that you know the best and worst of the matter, here are a few other things you should know if you’re thinking of picking up a virtual internship:

    1. If you aren’t a self-motivator, don’t do it.
      No, your boss won’t be watching you work over your shoulder, but that doesn’t mean you get to slack off—if you don’t do your work, your boss will still know. Take yourself to super-star intern level by regularly communicating the status of your projects to your boss, even if they aren’t due yet. It’ll make her life easier knowing what to expect from you (and reminding her that you’re doing good work never hurts you either).
    2. Get ready for an email explosion.
      All the assignment check-ins, quick questions for your boss, and little conversations you would have in the hall? Get ready for them all to be in your inbox. Long emails that replace presentations or team updates, short emails with quick questions about a project, just-in-the-subject-line emails for quick need-to-knows. We recently adopted a team chat service called HipChat that has relieved our inboxes some, but the amount of email you send and receive as a virtual worker is pretty absurd.
    3. If you can find a way to meet the people you work with, do it.
      Whether you can afford to take a trip to go meet them all, or Skype is the best thing you can do, find a way to spend a little time with your most immediate co-workers face-to-face. It’s kind of hard to really get to know someone over the internet, to get how you vibe with them. I worked with all of my co-workers over email and the phone for nine months, but didn’t feel like I really got to know them until I met them in person—and now I feel like I can interact with them all much better virtually. It’s nice to have a face, voice, and personality associated with the person on the other side of the email chain.
    4. Don’t be afraid to have a little virtual fun.
      When all your work is done via email, it can be easy to feel like every email you send has to be business related. News flash—it doesn’t. You have to find some way to virtually replace the break room (in fact, most of our breakroom content stems from the jokey emails and chats we send to each other). Obviously, this will depend on the level of professionalism within your organization and how well you know your co-workers—and you don’t want to spam people’s already crammed inboxes—but a fun email every now and then can be a good way to give everyone a quick break.

    That’s all I got for now! Do you have any questions about working virtually, or tips from your virtual work experiences?

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    • Julia Beyer 4:59 pm on October 16, 2012 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Thanks for these extremely useful tips about working virtually, Erin. I am highlighting this in the SOC Spot Newsletter.

  • Elyssa Shildneck 1:22 am on February 28, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: , capitol tours, congressman, constituents, , gchat, , summer internship, , vince lombardi   

    Advice: From One Intern to Another 

    Advice is one of the many things I’ve taken from each internship. This advice has come in many different forms and from a variety of people. I received the most advice during my summer internship on the hill. As the youngest intern in the office, I received advice from staff, other interns, professionals meeting with the Congressman and even constituents that I gave Capitol Tours.

    Now that I’ve had a variety of internships, I would like to think I have my own set of advice to bestow on others.

    Here is what I’ve learned in my years as an intern:

    1) Be early! Live by the words of Vince Lombardi “If you’re early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late. If you’re late don’t bother showing up” It shows commitment and initiative to be the first in the office. This may seem small but your supervisor and other staff will take notice. I’m not a morning person, so I like to have some extra time to wake up prior to interacting with other people.

    2) Share your opinion! I think we can all agree that in a certain respect D.C. would not be the city it is without interns. So if you have an opinion share it. You never know if ideas might be used for a new project or initiative. If you’re too intimidated to share you opinion, then you may be interning in the wrong office.

    3) Buy lunch once a week. Sadly many of us intern without pay but you should try to find a way to go out to lunch with other interns or staff in your office. During lunch you can develop  personal relationships with the people you interaction with on a daily basis. It is not good to sit at a desk all day and the relationships you develop at an internship can transform your experience in that organization.

    4) Do not browse gchat, facebook, your personal twitter account, or any shopping website all day. This pretty much goes without saying.  Even if you see staff going it, do not assume that it is okay to do. Regardless of how you are treated in an office, you are still an intern. Along with that, do not tweet about or post a status about your internship that can be negatively misconstrued.

    5) Be conscious of what you say about your internship outside of the office! You never know who can hear you and who that person may know. Everyone knows someone!

    6) Do not talk about drinking in your office, no matter how close you think you are to your supervisor, it is not professional.

    7) Dress for the job you want, not the job you have! If you would not wear the outfit to church or around your grandmother then its probably not appropriate for the office. Try the fingertip test for your skirt length. As for men… for the love of god, do not wear sneakers with a suit!! Ironing, although annoying, is a useful tool for life. If you don’t know how to iron, try youtube- they have tutorials.

    For now that’s the essential advice I have for interns. Stay tuned to hear more!

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    • Francine Blume 1:54 pm on March 8, 2012 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Fabulous advice! Where did you come up with this? Is this as a result of your own experiences? Did you see other interns falling into these traps and get in trouble for it?

  • Paul Lopreiato 9:30 pm on July 27, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: , experiences, gchat, , soccer,   

    Interview With an Unpaid Intern 

    A follow-up to this interview with someone who manages interns. I’ve known Brendan since seventh grade. Even though several other writers on this site are involved in unpaid internships, I’d like to know exactly what makes this one tick.

    me: Brendan, in what industry do you intern?

    Brendan: I am currently interning at YSC Sports which is a youth sports complex. It is also affiliated with the Philadelphia Union of Major League Soccer.

    me: What kind of person does an unpaid internship? What kind of person doesn’t? (More …)

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    • Jennifer Carignan 1:18 pm on July 28, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Thanks for an insightful interview, Paul. I thought I’d add another perspective to the “who takes/doesn’t take an unpaid internship” response.

      It’s important to keep in mind that unpaid internships, while a nice learning experience for students, are not always a possibility given the financial constraints of many enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs. It may be the case that some folks take paid internships because they are attracted to the paycheck, but I suspect that this is more the exception than the rule. From my perspective, there are many students who would love to do an internship like this but simply might not be able to afford to work several hours a week for no financial compensation. This is less a case of “caring more about getting paid than actually gaining useful experience” and more of needing to keep their finances in mind when making tough decisions about how to spend their time.

      Just my $.02, and perhaps others have opinions too.

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