Virtual Internships can be tough. Working from home can blur the lines of the work-life balance – causing employees and interns to work longer hours than expected. The disruption of the work-life balance has been a widespread issue for individuals working from home since the start of the pandemic. According to an article in The Conversation, individuals in the US working from home extended their workday by over two hours. I have definitely fallen into that trap. There have been many times when I caught myself doing work past my allotted hours. However, I am really lucky to intern for an organization that places emphasis on maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Being an organization of women who juggle multiple jobs, my supervisor has modeled the need to establish respectable work-life boundaries in order to minimize burnout and enjoy life outside the workplace.
It is with this mindset that I have decided to take advantage of my virtual internship and travel during the summer. From my portable office (a.k.a. my laptop) I have conducted my internship from New York City; Boca Raton, Florida; Maryland; Pennsylvania; Cape Cod, and, as of recently, Madrid, Spain. Though I definitely miss interacting with my colleagues in an in-person setting, I admit that I have enjoyed being able to do my internship while also visiting friends and family who I have not seen in over a year.
Due to the 6-hour time difference between Madrid and Boston, my supervisor and I have had to come up with creative ways to make sure that we have ample opportunities to connect. Every night, my supervisor uploads my work for the next day onto a Google TasksBoard. I focus on the work she has assigned until we Zoom in the afternoon at a reasonable time for both of us. These Zoom meetings have helped alleviate the feelings of isolation which can be common when doing a virtual internship. While interning with a time difference may not be possible for every intern or organization, I am lucky to have a supervisor who has been extremely accommodating; going above and beyond to ensure that I can build my network and establish relationships with women who can provide guidance and assistance to my career.
While my newfound graphic design, marketing, and communication skills will be useful as a club leader on campus, the idea of maintaining a work-life balance will likely be the most beneficial skill I have learned this summer, and the hardest one to adapt into my daily life back at Brandeis. Despite its importance, the practice of work-life balance goes out the window on college campuses. During the academic year, my struggle to find the balance between work and leisure has led to instances of burnout. One thing I hope to take away from this internship is to make space in my schedule for non-academic interests such as cooking, hiking, reading, or grabbing food at Sherman with friends. I implore other Brandeis students to follow my lead and begin to invest not only in their grades but also in themselves.