After interning for ‘Study Breaks’ while studying and traveling in Europe, I have some experience with the subject.
By Flavia Martinez, Amherst College
That being said, the remote internship is a unique experience. When deciding whether or not to accept a remote position, it’s important to take into account a number of pros and cons. In the end, it really comes down to knowing how you work best.
Increased Flexibility, a Double-edged Sword
Working from home means getting to make your own schedule, so you can more or less make time to go to the doctor, work out and run errands when you need to. In the same way, taking on a remote position doesn’t have to be a dramatic change. With the exception of mandatory scheduled meetings, working remotely allows you to build your week to suit your needs.
For the procrastinators of the world, though, flexibility is both a blessing and a curse. Going free form with your schedule can slowly turn into a cycle of procrastination, a classic case of “I’ll do it later.” Working nine to five isn’t for everyone, but sometimes it’s easier than trying to tackle work at different times of the day. When working remotely, it’s essential to prioritize work and set aside certain hours to sit down and get cracking.
The World Is Your Oyster (Kind Of)
When it comes to working from home, it’s possible to be almost anywhere in the world (what are time zones, again?) and anywhere that’s conducive to doing work: at the library, in the living room, at a park, in a cafe. You name it. Working from home not only allows employees to choose when and how they work, but where. Sometimes ideas just flow better outside the walls of an office.
However, one perk of working in a set location is having a designated space to sit down and focus. For some, having a physical workplace helps designate where to work and where to play. When working remotely, it’s never a bad idea to find places to work and stick to those places. Returning to a certain nook in the library or a spot in Starbucks just might be what you need to get in the zone.
When choosing a location, however, always remember that you’re nothing without access to reliable Wi-Fi. A stable internet connection is key to keeping up with emails in a timely manner, doing research and participating in video conferences.
Also key to videoconference calls and the like is silence. Finding quiet spaces on campus or at home can be hard at times, and you might have to hunt around a bit to find that perfect spot. If it comes down to sitting on a washer in the laundry room, so be it. The risk of potentially embarrassing background noises is too real.
Business Casual Minus the Business
Just as remote work locations are more or less endless, so are the kinds of clothes you can wear on the job. Being free to work whenever and wherever means being as formal or casual as you want. But, like, who needs to wear a suit to the campus center?
When it comes to video conferences, break out the pajama pants, because who’ll see them? If you do, just remember not to stand up.
The Virtual Water Cooler
Before taking on a remote position, it’s important to consider how valuable office interaction is to you. Some people prefer to work alone and are more productive without distractions. If this is you, working remotely is a great option, as it incentivizes employees to finish tasks, move on and reach out for help only when they need to.
For others, though, lacking the social aspect of work life is a deal breaker. Sharing a physical workspace with fellow employees is the perfect way to ask questions on the spot, bounce around ideas and crack jokes about little things that happen in day-to-day office life.
The Time Question, Again
Whether you’re more of a lone wolf or a people person, a strict nine to fiver or someone who works in bursts throughout the day, it’s important to remind yourself that working remotely is a serious endeavor. A remote internship might sound easy because you’re free to physically be anywhere and weave work and meetings into your schedule as you please, but, at the end of the day, remote work is still work.
Before jumping into a remote role, consider how much time you actually have in your schedule to complete the work required of you. Before stressing out on your laptop in your living room and slippers, it’s important to remember that, even though you’re working remotely, the work you’re doing matters.