April 3, 2020 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn

Written by Lourdes Hurtado and King’s Alumni Aysenur Ece Kurt ‘19, Zirda Kiki ’17, Communications Interns

As college students, internships are a chance for us to gain hands-on experience in the field we are studying. As Public Relations Corporate Communications (PRCC) students at Fanshawe College, an internship at King’s University College in the Communications department was a great opportunity to experience communications on multiple levels. However, what happens when an unexpected bump in the road, such as a pandemic, interferes with our internship?

Luckily for us, in the digital era that we are now living, almost everything is available to us online. However, what kind of internship can become an online, virtual internship? Well, with the right planning, leadership, and management, almost any internship can be completed through online platforms. We had the chance to gain different experience needed for our careers.

For the virtual intern, the office is anywhere that includes a laptop and Wi-Fi. This virtual internship has been extremely beneficial to us from a communications background. We got the best of both worlds, working and learning while being able to continue the internship in a virtual office from the comfort of our own homes.  As interns, we faced and overcame many challenges. Here are three lessons we have learned from this unconventional internship:

  1. Choose your time wisely:
    1. Setting a time to meet face-to-face with your team is a good idea to organize the work that is needed to be done. The current technological era allows us to use Facebook, Zoom, or any other online platform to communicate. Setting a time to work is important. Virtual meetings give the sense of a workday in a real office setting. It provides consistency to the team, so everyone knows the expected time to meet and work.
  2. Team Communication:
    1. Working remotely from home is very different from working together in an office setting. When you work remotely, it is critical to stay connected to your boss and colleagues. Hence, one of the best remote practices we’ve discovered is to take detailed notes and communicate frequently. It’s important to have purposeful and planned communication. Information can be easily misunderstood, or not communicated in the first place. For this reason, it’s a good idea to frequently ask questions and clarifications when working in a remote environment.
  3. Be focused and organized when working from home:
    1. When working from home, we might encounter various distractions: friends checking on us or sending texts all the time, the temptation to watch a Netflix series; and the temptation to check what is happening on our own social media channels. We have learned to set time apart, silence the phone, and focus on work.

As we practice physical distancing, many businesses and organizations are turning to virtual workplaces. Our recommendations to them for adapting to a new normal would be:

  1. Set an online platform to communicate with your team.
  2. Set times and schedule to communicate with your team.
  3. Establish a website or social media channels for your business to communicate with your audience.
  4. Craft messages to your audience from the leader of your business or organization.
  5. Communicate often, but not too often, to avoid the message getting lost.
  6. Listen to your audience and establish a two-way communication practice by replying to their comments.
  7. Remember that change is the new normal and you may need to adapt again.

 As interns, we have to remember that this is our time to shine. We have to take an internship as seriously as we would with a real job, regardless of the circumstances.

During this unexpected time, we have created various types of communications tactics: videos, graphics for social media, social media posts, and web stories. We also witnessed how to handle crisis communications under strong leadership. Thanks, King’s University College for taking us as interns during this unprecedented time and we just have to say, we loved it!