My name is Astrid Lucia Offersen, and I am currently undertaking an Aberdeen Internship with Museums and Special Collections. My role involves developing student engagement and international audiences for the extensive collections held by the University of Aberdeen. I am based remotely, which means that my onboarding process was completely online. The majority of my role revolves around developing social media strategies to encourage engagement and managing social media, so I thought I was prepared for the amount of screen-time I’d subject myself to – I was wrong!
My first piece of advice when it comes to starting a new job that is completely online, is to carve out free time and make that sacred. In the beginning, I found it difficult to balance how to take time off when it seemed as if I could constantly be working – after all, the computer is right there. When your living space also becomes your workspace, it can be hard to distinguish between the two. In the beginning I would feel guilty if I took a lunch break where I was not simultaneously working, however, I realised that it is important to set out workspace boundaries, so now I put my computer completely away for my lunch breaks. I cannot stress enough how much this did for my headspace! I would encourage everyone who is working from home and online to set out clear boundaries for themselves when it comes to work. You do not have to answer emails after your workday has ended – regardless of when they were sent. You do not have to be constantly productive or accessible just because you could be. Rest and breaks are sacred, and you should treat them as such. And my goodness, remember to stand up and stretch sometimes! And look away from your screen. No job is worth destroying your body over!
While a completely virtual onboarding wasn’t how I imagined my internship would begin, so much care had gone into planning it that I felt completely at ease and well-prepared by the end of it. I attended an induction with the other Aberdeen Interns and shortly thereafter I had two meetings with my line managers. Both events were super comfortable, thorough, and set me up well for the beginning of my internship. I was quite nervous before the internship induction, but we did a couple of icebreakers and soon everyone settled in. We also made a private WhatsApp group for the interns so that we could talk to one another on less official channels and since then we’ve even managed to meet-up for a physical (but socially distant) picnic.
When I started my Aberdeen Internship with Museums & Special Collections, I was met with the warmest bunch of people. Everyone was highly sympathetic with the fact that circumstances were difficult this year and made it clear that I could reach out at any time for anything, be it big or small. While I found the onboarding process to be quite intense, I think this is mainly due to how short the internship is. My first two weeks were spent in many different meetings where I was introduced to key contacts in the department – all of which were super lovely and welcoming. I was absolutely knackered and overstimulated by meeting so many people virtually, but it was worth it because now I know who to go to for certain things, how the department functions, and many other invaluable tidbits that make my internship coherent and interesting. Despite everything being virtual, I felt extremely seen and comfortable. Four weeks into my internship I also managed to meet-up with some of my team for a tea break in Seaton Park. While MS Teams and email goes a long way, nothing quite beats physical meetings!