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New ways of working for graduate PR intern Shaira

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Home working is not uncommon in our industry and we’re lucky to be able to carry on with business as usual during such a difficult time. But what’s it like if you are new to the workplace and the industry? Our graduate intern Shaira Ghoorun explains how she has adapted to the challenge…


It’s Shaira here… Liberty PR’s intern back at it again.

I was due to be working for the company for six weeks, but De Montfort University and Liberty PR offered to extend my internship to a 12-week placement, which is great news because I’ve been enjoying every minute. The extension also means I get twice as much experience and learn twice as much as I would have done in six weeks, which is great. I’m here until May.

Well. I say ‘here’. I’m not in the office on my third sneaky chocolate bar, I’m sat in my mother’s study with a sleeping cat on my lap, thanks to Covid-19, which has had an effect on just about everybody I am aware of.

We are all working from home at the moment. So far, that means in order to fuel the press releases and coverage I’ve been working on today, I have also consumed an unhealthy amount of caffeine and treated myself to my last McDonald’s before it closes indefinitely, along with everything else in the UK right now.

The first half of my internship gave me a taste of what office life is really like. I was welcomed into a group of warm, funny people who have all taken me on as a member of the team. In a few short weeks at Liberty, I’ve written press releases, worked on a script-writing project for a short film, attended a film shoot, written articles for corporate newsletters and researched everything from community groups to chocolatiers.

We’d been warned for a couple of days that we might have to start working from home in the near future, and sure enough, on Tuesday afternoon, we all packed our things up and prepared to start working from home.

I also have a second job at Leicester Royal Infirmary, where I work as a barista in the oncology department’s on-site café twice a week. After all the stress of the past couple of weeks, on Thursday it became fair to say that we should probably prepare to shut down the café temporarily because of the way things were going with the coronavirus outbreak.

Friday was my first official day working from home and I must say I was quite nervous because everybody else had been already doing it for two days before me.

I’ve never really worked from home before (unless you count working on my dissertation while ordering Deliveroo last year.) So I decided the best thing to do was get organised. I cleared my bedroom on Thursday evening, made space at my desk and tried to connect to the temporary server. I was glad I did this the night before as opposed to Friday morning, because it took a while, even with my housemate’s help (I’m not very good with technology, as it turns out.)

By Friday morning, I was ready. I think the transition from working in a busy office where you are able to turn round and ask a colleague a question, to working in your room where you are within sight of your bed, is quite a tough transition to make. I don’t think it went too badly though. I completed the tasks that I had planned to get done that day, even if I did eat a whole big packet of Maryland cookies.

As the situation grew more intense regarding COVID-19 and social distancing, I realised that it was probably best for me to be at home with my family than on my own in Leicester. Because I can complete my internship duties from home – whether that’s in Leicester or my mum’s house – I decided I might concentrate better over here.

So I packed up my little car on Saturday and drove the 145 miles back to my mum’s house on the Suffolk coast, which is where you’ll find me now, drinking my third Vanilla Coke of the day (the same supply that was supposed to last me all the way through the quarantine) and listening to The Killers, as I write this post. I did have a cat on my lap, but she’s now left. I don’t think she appreciated my choice of song very much.

I came up with a few tips on how to handle working from home at a time like this, especially if you’re new to it, like me:

Sit somewhere relatively quiet

Maybe have music on, if it makes you concentrate better.

Keep your workspace tidy

Yeah… I should probably tidy mine up again.

Organise your time

It doesn’t need to be down to the minute, but it always helps to have a list of things handy that you’d like to get done that day.

Try and stick to a routine similar to your office routine

You don’t necessarily need to wake up at the same time as you would if you were in the office, or do a full face of makeup (for instance, it takes me 45 minutes to drive to work normally, which is now cut out of my routine.) But try and have lunch breaks and coffees at a similar time to when you would have them in the office.

Keep your phone at a distance – the Instagram quarantine memes will still be there once you’ve finished that task

I keep mine in the same room, so I can hear it if it starts ringing, but in the corner where I can’t see it. It actually is working, for now anyway.

Get all your food/drinks for the day sorted before you start working

…Unless you want to brave the Great Brawl of Big Tesco at lunchtime.

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