An internship offers the chance to gain valuable experience and insight into your chosen career field, all before you graduate from college. However, just like many aspects of education and business, internships have changed greatly in the last few years. While traditional opportunities still exist, the virtual internship has gained popularity.
Defining the Virtual Internship
A virtual internship is similar to the regular variety except that you participate remotely. You’ll use your computer to complete your scheduled tasks for the employer and to stay in touch. You don’t have to report to a physical location; instead, you complete your internship off site. If you think this might offer the best approach for you, consider these factors before you sign up.
1) Will Your Career Aspirations Align With a Virtual Environment?
Some industries seem built for virtual internships. According to Hack College, positions in sales, marketing, and information technology lend themselves to remote internships. However, if you’re planning to work in manufacturing or film-making or sports medicine, virtual internships are not likely the best fit. Think about the tasks you will complete in your future career. Do they require a hands-on approach or can you accomplish them remotely? Answering this question will help you decide if a virtual internship will provide the right match.
2) Will a Virtual Internship Cause You to Miss Out on Important Benefits?
An in-person position offers many benefits for college students. For instance, if you’re studying languages in anticipation of a career as a foreign diplomat, you might get more value from an internship abroad. By traveling to another country, you’ll enmesh yourself in that culture and learn about the ins and outs of travel, both of which will inform (and perhaps enhance) your future career. Other benefits of an in-person internship include the ability to interact with colleagues, the opportunity to build networks, and the chance to test yourself in a professional environment. Compare the pros and cons of virtual internships as you make your decision.
3) What Type of Employer Do You Want to Work For?
In today’s world, you have to consider many different factors when applying for jobs. For instance, if you want to work in the private sector, do you envision yourself working for a small start-up in a bohemian loft or for a major multinational corporation in a skyscraper or for a mid-sized business in an office park? Maybe you’d prefer to work in the public sector, perhaps for a government agency or a non-profit or a political action group. Use your aspirations to inform your choice of internships. Many of the companies that offer virtual positions are small or young companies with limited liquid capital and a finger on the pulse of technological advancements. If this sounds like your ideal situation, maybe a virtual internship will offer the best environment.
4) What’s Your Personality Type?
College students perform well in virtual internships when they crave solitude and quiet. If you’re an introvert who is self-motivated and requires little management, consider the virtual route. However, if you thrive on human interaction, high levels of activity, and close direction, being on site for an internship is probably your best option.
Whether you’re looking for a full-year or summer internship, virtual options add another level of flexibility to your choices. Consider all internship options to ensure you have the best opportunities in preparation for your future career.