Last summer, I had the pleasure of interning at the no-code software startup, Unqork. I was the first and only product design intern, and the whole program was virtual. Going into it, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I could imagine a remote internship feeling isolating, understimulating, and not very impactful. Thankfully, my experience was the complete opposite.
During the interview process, I got the impression that employees at Unqork, especially the design team, were thoughtful, intelligent, and compassionate. This proved to be the case throughout the internship, and continued as I transitioned into a full-time position after the internship ended.
During my internship, I worked on a platform commenting feature. I explored the needs and pain points of Unqork creators through interviews. I then iterated on designs based on user testing. And finally, I presented my case study and final prototype to fellow interns as well as full-time employees.
This project was fun and impactful, while also exposing me to the various aspects of the design process. My manager, Andrew Khor, was extremely enthusiastic and supportive throughout the internship, which made my experience even more enjoyable.
I wanted to share some of the things that I did during my remote internship that really helped make it a wonderful experience—plus a few things I wish I had done, now that I am a full-time employee looking back on my experience.
1. Learn about your team members’ expertise and backgrounds.
My manager had encouraged me to set up 1-on-1 calls with everyone on my team, which made me feel much more settled in my role! By talking to each person on my team, I got to know their strengths, backgrounds, and perspectives. It became easier to figure out who to go to for a specific question or comment. You can also assess who could be a good mentor to you, or who could help teach you about different parts of the business.
Additionally, learning about your teammates helps solidify your working relationship, making it more enjoyable to work together.
2. Create, and most importantly, share your goals.
Companies often require you to create goals for your internship. In most cases, you only share these with your manager. However, I think it’s important to have transparency about your goals with other team members, too. Often, they are experts in exactly the things you want to learn and have already gone through a similar growth journey.
Also, don’t fret if you’re struggling with coming up with goals! You will probably get a better sense of your goals as the internship progresses and you witness your own weaknesses, get feedback from peers, or are perhaps inspired by a skilled peer.
Don’t fret if you’re struggling with coming up with goals! You will probably get a better sense of your goals as the internship progresses and you witness your own weaknesses, get feedback from peers, or are perhaps inspired by a skilled peer.
3. Make an effort to get to know peers personally.
In a remote setting, it’s easy to feel distant from fellow interns and coworkers. You often have to make the extra effort to reach out to people and get to know them at a personal level. During my internship, we had 1-on-1 social chats twice a week with other interns, which was incredibly helpful in making me feel less alone. Along with designated social chats, you can try to make time in meetings to talk about non-work-related things.
Furthermore, I came into the internship with the intention to make friends, so if I felt very comfortable with someone, I would literally tell them that I was looking to make friends at work. I told them that I wanted to be able to reach out and talk about the little day-to-day highs and lows. This worked well, and I’m still in touch with my intern friends today!
4. Feel empowered to speak up.
I remember feeling super nervous in my first team meeting. I felt that I had very little experience and had nothing to contribute compared to my full-time peers. It takes time to feel settled in a role, of course. But in the meantime, feel empowered to ask questions and express any feedback you have! You were chosen to join this team, so they want to hear from you and your fresh perspective.
Even if you have limited working experience in your field, you can always utilize experiences from your education, extracurriculars, personal life, etc. I frequently find myself suggesting improvements on team processes and collaboration, based on my experiences in class group projects.
Wishing the best to all of the interns at Unqork and beyond! Congratulations for making it, and always remember that you deserve to be here! :)