• What It's Like to be a Virtual Intern During the COVID-19 Pandemic

    by HR & Management

    Est. Read time:




    Image 2021 08 12 T21 40 30

    Written by: Xin Wei​

    If you’re a university student, you might’ve wondered what your first internship experience would be like. It’s easy to romanticize and imagine fun scenarios in the office. Unfortunately, life as an intern is slightly different during the global pandemic. 

    As an intern for BGC Group, an IT outsourcing agency in Singapore. I too expected my office internship experience to be fun and an office. Despite applying before the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

    I had to postpone my internship as cases continued to soar. After some deliberation with the HR team, I managed to score a contract with the company. 

    The First Day Felt Strange...

    As a Marketing intern, I expected my internship to be fun and filled with great in-office experiences. But being removed from the environment and having to work from home surrounded by my own soft toys felt a little odd.  

    Not going to lie, my first day at work felt odd. It felt a lot like the online classes and online orientation at  university. I remember vividly sitting in front of my laptop on the first Monday morning waiting to introduce myself to the whole company, and boy was I nervous. As you can’t exactly see the reaction of everyone, I kept panicking and thinking that I might say the wrong thing. 

    Or worse! Have someone chuckle at something I mumbled. But everyone was so welcoming and friendly after my introduction. Some of my colleagues even un-muted their microphones to welcome me to the company. At that moment, I was shocked because despite being away from the office, I didn’t feel like an outsider. After the virtual meeting and completing the on-boarding conducted by the HR department. I was officially an intern with BGC Singapore. 

    Working From Home Started to Feel Lonely...

    Now I understand that the title of this article states that I am a virtual intern. And the only reason why I claim this title is because I have never been to the office at all. Except for the one time when I visited the office to sign my contract. However, the subsequent contract signings were signed virtually. 

    Despite working from home, throughout my entire internship period, I kept up hope that I was able to visit the office. Even for a week. Working from home might seem fun at first because you don’t have to dress up and be in appropriate attire. It also eliminates the need to wake up very early in the morning to squeeze into public transportation with the other office crowd….just to get to the office. At first, I relished the casual routine. I no longer needed to wake up on time, wash up, and get ready to work. 

    But working alone, facing IT problems alone and doing everything alone was not much fun. No one could understand what I was going through and what I was feeling. It all felt quite lonely. But despite the melancholy, being a virtual intern is still quite an interesting experience. I felt like it really tested my self-discipline. With such thin barriers between my home and work life (thanks to WFH). At times, it does seem like work never truly ends. And I dread to say this but since there is no physical boundary to separate work from my own personal time, it felt like the workload increased quite significantly. 

    I realised that with the large workload, most of my colleagues didn’t have time to micromanage me to ensure that I was doing my work. Or perhaps, micromanaging was not the company’s style of managing people. Unlike the school life, my supervisors here left me to my own devices and put faith in me that I could produce the work as and when I’m required. It felt slightly unusual but after a while, I started to get used to it. 

    My WFH Routine Started Settling In...

    The freedom you get when working from home can be a good thing for people who enjoy working following their own time and target. I quickly realised that I could manage my own schedule and time, as long as the list of tasks I was given was completed.

    After a few weeks, I was finally settling into this newfangled thing...known as a virtual internship. I started to get the hang of what I was supposed to do and on which days. 

    Although there were certain routine tasks that were required to be completed during certain hours of the day. There were also other ad-hoc tasks that I was sometimes required to complete before the end of the week. What helped me was making a list of the tasks I’d completed on different days of the week. It helped me stay organised and allowed me to finish my workload on time. 

    Getting Used to Virtual Meetings...

    The one routine thing that I had a hard time adapting to were the virtual meetings held every Monday and Friday. As an introvert, I sometimes dread meetings since I am anxious of making mistakes.

    But that is not the case here. I found the routine meetings to be a great way to engage with my colleagues and get to know them better. I found these routine meetings to be a good way to socialize and get my head away from the confines of my room for a bit. 

    As I started getting used to the virtual meetings, I secretly hope that schools should implement more casual virtual meetings and chats too. To help students to get to know each other better. It would make the class more open towards speaking up and closer as a cohort! 

    Even though working from home isn’t the conventional way of completing your internship, I am still very thankful for my supervisors, Clara, Jue Ping, and Deana, for being so patient with me when I just started out on my journey.

    A special thanks to Deana for not just being a supervisor and being a friend to me. Thank you for sharing with me your experiences and ideas, and for editing my articles. I am thankful to be given this opportunity to help you out and share my ideas with you too! I would like to extend my thanks to Jasmine, our new marketing manager, for being so friendly. I hope you will enjoy your stay at the company just like I did!

    As a virtual Marketing intern, I had the opportunity to create, ideate, and write articles. Despite the lack of an office environment, the virtual internship wasn’t a bad experience at all. One thing’s for sure, WFH is no replacement for the fun office life. But maybe, I’m still romanticizing it. Thank you BGC Group for being so welcoming and allowing me to have a wonderful internship here. May we meet again, but till then, stay healthy, happy, and safe!

    Best Wishes,

    Your Virtual Intern (Xin Wei) 

    Like what you read? Check out our article, How to Bond with Your Colleagues During The Pandemic, to find out ways to make the newcomers feel included too! 

    Read more: Life as a BGC Group Intern – A Shy Boy’s Perspective

    A subsidiary of Omnibridge Holdings