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Get hired remotely, The internship series

Creative ways to make connections during your virtual internship

How to make friends at your summer internship—even if it's through a screen!

As schools and businesses find ways to safely connect while abiding by COVID-19 safety precautions, it’s become increasingly common for internship programs to go remote. And while it might take a bit of extra effort to find friends and build a network while interning in a virtual format, there are plenty of ways for you to make connections as a remote intern.

Here are just a few of the creative ways that Handshake’s 2020 summer interns, who interned virtually from their homes across the country, found to make connections during their months at Handshake.

Set up quick virtual coffee breaks

In traditional in-office internships, there are often opportunities to meet new team members at the coffee machine, or on a quick jaunt out for lunch. Though it might take a bit more advance planning, try to replicate this same experience with teammates via video conferencing! At Handshake, interns are encouraged to participate in “donut chats” with folks from around the company; these 20-minute hangouts take place over Zoom, and allow interns to get to know folks in different functions, departments, and parts of the world in a low-stakes way.

In your virtual internship, consider snagging a short slot on a different teammate’s calendar every week to simply chat and get to know one another.

Create a “breakout room”

There’s something special about getting work done alongside your peers, or having the freedom to hold an impromptu brainstorm session. If you’re navigating a remote environment and know that other interns might feel similarly intimidated about making friends, try setting up a “breakout room” for work sessions via video chat! Even if you all just sit in companionable silence while you type, or listen to the same playlist together while organizing spreadsheets, replicating the feeling of an in-office hangout can be a good way to become comfortable with your new team.

Send personal follow-up chats

We’ve all had those moments: somebody mentions that their weekend plans include watching a show you love, or visiting a location you’re fond of. If this happens at the start of a meeting, though, it’s not always an appropriate time to start a personal conversation with a new coworker. However, don’t miss your chance to bond over a shared interest! Once your meeting is over, shoot them a chat to spark a discussion:

  • “Hey, I heard you mention that you’re binge-watching Avatar: The Last Airbender. I love that show! Which type of bender would you want to be?”
  • “Did you say at the start of the meeting that you like to bake? I’m looking for a new recipe to try this weekend! Any suggestions?”
  • “I noticed your Warriors hat during our team call! Are you more of a Klay Thompson fan or a Steph Curry enthusiast?”

While you don’t want to distract somebody from their work for too long, these quick convos can be a great way to forge connections with new people over the course of your internship.

If you want even more pointers for navigating life in a remote world, follow our Instagram for daily advice. You can also check out these tips for making the most of a remote internship, and take a peek at our other virtual content.

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