How to stay motivated when volunteering from home.

miriam-foisOnline volunteering is a novel experience for many volunteers who often find it challenging to stay emotionally connected and motivated with a volunteer project from far away.

In this article, Miriam Fois, a freshly graduated student from the University of Ca’ Foscari in Venice (Italy), shares examples based on her direct experience on how to stay involved and engaged while helping from home.

Hi Miriam. Nice to meet you!  How did you apply for an online Internship?

I signed up for an Educational Internship from remote with Professionals doing good in Cambodia through my university- Ca’ Foscari. I wanted to learn how to manage social media in the workplace while doing something meaningful.  The interview via video call went well. I was offered a three-month internship project on online communications and social media management.

An internship from home could be difficult, due to the physical distance from the international organization you are helping.  How did you manage to stay emotionally engaged with your project?

First of all, I think it is essential to build a strong relationship with your tutor.

It will make you feel involved and help you stay on track with your project. For example, my tutor and I have scheduled a weekly video call since the beginning of my internship. We discuss my progress and the assignments I’ve completed in the past week. We come up with ideas on what to do next. Luisa, my tutor, is quite good at listening to my suggestions. She also encourages me not to give up in case of mistakes. I find her approach refreshing because she doesn’t shut my ideas down and pushes me to do things better.

Secondly, to stay curious.

I enjoyed learning about Cambodia and tried to absorb as much as possible about the local culture to shorten the distance.  For example, my first social media campaign consisted of introducing local Cambodian street food to Pdg’s followers. I learned that sticky rice is a delicious snack, even if I never set a foot in Cambodia! You can experience another country and culture even if you’re miles away!

Last but not least, you need to love what you’re doing.

Learning new skills that  I can apply in a future job gives me lots of energy and motivation. Plus, using my creativity and coming up with new ideas is so much fun. It is something that I want to continue doing in the future.

What digital tools did you use to volunteer from home?

I could not live without three digital tools: Trello, Canva, and Google Drive.

Trello is an online team management software that I used to prioritize and organize my project. I particularly enjoyed the checklist option because it gives you a percentage of progress whenever you complete a task.

Canva was essential to create graphic designs for social media. I like it because it brings out my creativity and makes my job more exciting and entertaining. Canva is great for visual people like myself.

Overall, Google Drive was the most valuable online tool. You can easily upload, share and edit files in real-time!

How did you manage to organize the time dedicated to your internship?

Every day I set up a specific timeframe to work on the project. I have also set up some ground rules. For example, I have stopped checking emails after dinner because I kept thinking about the tasks I still have to do… while in bed!

What tips would you give to nonprofits to keep their virtual internship students motivated?.

I would suggest organizing a recurrent check-in with their interns. Either to discuss the progress of the project and to encourage them to grow and improve themselves.

My tutor has given me invaluable pieces of advice that I’ll treasure forever. For example, I realized that I was often using negative language. I used to describe a situation as a glass-half-empty.  Now I am working hard to spark interest in the readers by showing the positive side of things.

What piece of advice would you give to a future virtual internship student wanting to follow your example?

To be resilient, persevere.

Do not give up in case you fail in your task the first time. I have learned that you may have to rework your assignment several times before you do it right. ( For example, I had to rewrite my answers to this article 4 times 😊 )


If you’d like to have a unique experience while making a difference as Miriam did, contact Professionals doing good for more information here

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