Best Practices for Interning Remotely

Disclaimer: By now, your organization has probably already established a routine for remote work and how they expect summer interns to be integrated, so make sure to follow their lead. 

Goals

  • Establish early on what the organization’s expectations are and what your goals for the internship are. What are you hoping to gain from it — are there specific skills or knowledge areas you’re hoping to develop?
  • Regardless of whether you are working remotely or in-person your intentions should be the same: to produce excellent work for the organization, to gain additional legal experience for yourself, and to build your professional reputation in the legal community.

Setting

  • Establish a home office from where you work. This should not be your bed. Try to set up a space that will minimize distractions.
  • Make sure you are ready to receive a video call without notice — this means appropriate personal appearance, as well as visual background and surrounding noise level. Remember that you are on their timeline, they are not on yours.

Communication

  • Remote work can feel more informal, but do not forget you are in a professional setting. Do not use informal language, or emojis, unless it is clearly appropriate for the office culture/communication setting. Always be mindful of your audience.
  • Remote work is not limited to email. Sometimes a phone or video call is more efficient than a long email exchange. It is also easier to build relationships and rapport via phone/video. Before sending an email or picking up the phone, make sure you have gathered your thoughts/questions.
  • When assigned a project, make sure to clarify the deadline, format (email vs formal memo, etc), expectations regarding progress updates throughout the project, and preferred method of communication. Ask questions and take notes.
  • Confirm with your supervisors the best way to reach them to schedule a time to talk in the event you have questions or otherwise need to reach them when working on assignments.
  • If an occasion arises where you are not going to be available during normal working hours (doctor’s appointment, for example) make sure to communicate this to your supervisor/relevant colleagues.
  • Assume that everything (email, chats, etc.) is viewable by supervisors and remember your ethical obligations of confidentiality when using technology.
  • Be proactive in asking for feedback. If possible, receive feedback via phone or video so that a discussion can develop.
  • If not already an established protocol, suggest possible arrangements such as a daily email update on your work progress and intentions for the next day. This can also be helpful for supervisors to manage workflow.

Building Relationships

  • Your organization may have already established a protocol for connecting with others, so make sure to take advantage of these opportunities.
  • Law School Fellowships expect that, at a minimum, your supervisor will videoconference with you twice a week.
  • Be proactive in setting up video coffee chats with non-supervisor attorneys to learn about the work they are doing and build relationships throughout the organization.
  • Don’t forget about building relationships with fellow interns as well. For example, organizing Zoom happy hours, book club/movie/podcast discussions, checking in to discuss work projects, etc. can all be helpful ways to connect.

Making the Most of a Shortened Summer Program

Best Communication Practices for a Virtual Summer 2020