three colorfully dressed adults posing for a photo

Virtual Internships–What’s the Deal?

by Sarah Wilkinson, Class of ’17

Dear Adventurous Intern-To-Be,

A virtual internship is one that doesn’t require you to go into an office. In fact, you can work from anywhere you have an Internet connection (even your bed!). More and more employers are offering virtual internships and more and more students are taking them on. Here’s what you should know before applying.

Pros:

  • You can take an opportunity that you normally wouldn’t be able to based on your geographic location. Say you live in Minnesota but you want to intern in NYC; you can with a virtual internship.
  • Most often, virtual internships have flexible hours that work around your schedule. You can work late at night or early in the morning – it doesn’t matter as long as you do the work! Some employers do require consistent schedules from week to week, but even then, they’ll often work around any other responsibilities you have.
  • You don’t have to fetch coffee or make copies!
Champlain College

A virtual internship means you can work from IDX, or anywhere! Photo by Stephen Mease

Neutral:

  • You have to be accountable and self-motivated because your supervisor will not always be there to make sure you’re doing your work. Depending on what kind of person you are, this could either be a pro or a con.
  • If you are creative, working independently leaves a lot of room for you to try out new ideas in your assignments.

Cons:

  • Interning remotely can make networking with professionals in your industry harder. You’ll get to know your supervisor and maybe a few other workers (and the other interns), but you’ll most likely miss out on making many face-to-face, personal connections with the people who could one day offer you a full-time job.
  • It can be hard to create a work-life balance because you both work and live at home.
  • Asking your supervisor a question isn’t so easy when you’re not in the same room. Getting feedback (positive and negative) on your work is more difficult for the employer, so you might not get as much.
  • It can be hard to feel connected to your assignments, especially if all your work is on the computer because you won’t have any tangible results.

If you think a virtual internship might be for you, search for one using CareerShift (find the Career Collaborative on the Career Collaborative home page). Some programs will even accept virtual internships as your senior year requirement – talk to your faculty teaching the course! And even if it doesn’t count, the experience you will gain does count for something.

Sources: Tufts Center Career Blog, Intern Queen, Vault