Working from home is not for everyone. While it can be a lifesaver for some, others have complained that working from home comes with heightened stress levels, decreased productivity, and an increased number of problems due to miscommunication.
And an internship is inherently more stressful than work – because you’re new, you’ve yet to learn how the company works, or how to communicate with your managers or colleagues. So if people who actually know what they’re doing are complaining that doing their job long-distance is hard, what does that say about the internship?
Is it worth taking work from home internship when you know it might potentially result in additional stress and anxiety?
My answer is an unequivocal YES.
Let’s break down why.
The Upsides of a Work from Home Internship
Here’s the deal: an internship is exactly what you should be taking the biggest risks with during your work career. This is the time you get to experiment and find out what it is you’re good at, what it is that you want to do, and what are the things you won’t do – even if you’re good – just because doing them is making your work life miserable.
We will spend about a third of our lives at work. There will be plenty of time for you later to seek out stability – now is the time to take a risk.
Working from home is still unconventional, despite the rise of the freelance market and technological progress. Was unconventional, at least, until the global pandemic forced most office workers to relocate home. These days you’re more likely than ever to know someone who is working from home. But there’s a reason that people who voluntarily choose to work from home make that choice. It gives them freedom and independence usually not found in the rigorous office environment.
Interning from home will give you a taste, is this lifestyle for you or not. It will allow you to see if working long-distance is an optimal life choice for you – or if you would do better at the office.
But even more importantly – it will force you to adopt a set of skills you wouldn’t need to if you were interning at the office.
You Will Have to Learn to Organize Yourself
While it’s very likely your internship will have a classic “office schedule” and require you to be available from 9 to 6, you’ll be the only one responsible for organizing that time.
You’ll have to prioritize the tasks and cut down on distractions on your own, you’ll have to give yourself the breaks and make sure they don’t last over the allotted time and damage the work you do, you’ll have to make sure your office hours don’t spill over the schedule and you won’t work till midnight just to complete a task.
All of this may sound redundant – but you’ll find that they’re hard to practice (even for those who’ve been doing it for years). Interning from home will be a great lesson in self-organizing.
You’ll Improve Your Communication Skills
When your manager, or your colleagues, or your clients are available in the same space as you and can always be reached, it’s easier to check if you’re dealing with the task correctly.
Not so much when you’re sitting alone at home.
Many have said that getting in touch with the manager, asking for advice or direction when they’re working from home has become harder.
It may make you feel stupid to check and re-check for multiple times, you might feel like you’re annoying – and that often leads to attempts to do something independently, without others’ input.
If you want to do your job well, you’re going to have to ask for help. You’re interning, which means you’re learning. You ARE going to have to ask for advice. And that’s a good thing.
Internship Can Be Cut Short
Being an intern is much more freeing than being an employee. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that cutting an internship short isn’t a loss. Depending on the company, an internship can have a great influence on your career.
But it does allow a certain degree of freedom actual employees do not have. That’s why an internship is the time to experiment with what you want.
If you do find that a work from home internship isn’t for you – then you can cut it short. And it will hurt much less than losing a job would.
The Downsides of a Work from Home Internship
Of course, a work from home internship does come with certain downsides – like everything else in life.
First and foremost – making an impression on your employers becomes harder. A big part of an effective internship is to make those above you remember you. And this is much easier to do when you’re sharing the working space – even if only tangentially. Making them remember who you are is much harder when you hardly ever interact face-to-face and one-on-one. You’ll likely need to be twice as effective an intern while working long-distance as you’d be in the office – and even then what you rip will probably still be less.
Another thing is that you’ll likely learn less than you would in the office. A big part of the learning process while interning is witnessing what your department does in practice. This is an experience that will be unavailable to you if you intern from home.
And yet I think it’s definitely worth it for you to at least consider interning from home. It’s a risk – but it’s the kind of risk where you win big if it’s successful and lose little if not.
It is, most importantly, a unique learning experience. And that is what an internship is above all else – a learning experience. You might never get a chance at something like this again.