Anne is an Honours Political Science student at Western University. She worked as a BHER Student Advisory Board (SAB) member and also has experience working in policy and human rights at the Senate of Canada. We talked to Anne about how to succeed while working from home.
How did you foster a strong relationship with your co-workers and your supervisor while working remotely?
One of the ways was through routine check-in calls. Whenever one of my co-workers offered to set up a time to talk either about our project or their work, I always took them up on their offer. Given that the placement was virtual, I had to be very deliberate about building strong relationships with my team and my supervisor/mentor. Whether it was through our Zoom conversations or over email, I tried to work in personal anecdotes or ask relevant questions that could open up conversations regarding their experiences in the field or any advice they thought was important.
How did you prepare for your WFH placement? Is there anything that you wish that you would have done differently?
Given that I was primarily conducting research and supporting my supervisor, it was very important to have a clear understanding of my supervisor’s research and theoretical focuses. However, this shouldn’t be specific to research positions - it’s extremely important to come into a placement with a strong understanding of the company or organization. It is completely normal to have uncertainties about your placement organization, but overall make sure you do your research beforehand: it’ll help set you up for success!
How can you utilize your WFH placement to help develop your professional skills?
At the beginning of the WFH placement, make sure that you outline the professional skills that you hope to obtain, as well as the professional goals that you hope to achieve. By outlining your goals, it is easier to situate your work assignments within your overall professional goals. In that way, every assignment, even if it is small, will play a significant role in helping you achieve your goals. Make sure to have a conversation with your supervisor about your goals for the WFH placement as they may be able to shape your work assignments to help you develop certain professional skills.
Overall, how can you maximize your WFH placement?
Remember that you get what you put in during your WFH placement. I have found through my own experiences, as well as my peers, that supervisors WANT to support you and help you grow. Therefore, it can be as simple as asking to work on certain projects or to attend a specific event. Even if you aren’t able to work on a certain project, your supervisor and mentor(s) will appreciate that you are completely immersing yourself in the experience and the organization!
In conclusion - remember to stay connected even from afar during your placements, and define specific skills or goals you’d like to achieve. Good luck!