What You Need to Know About a Virtual Internship

virtual internship

There was a time when the only way you could experience an internship was to be physically present at the employer’s location. Now that the Internet is available everywhere, virtual internships are becoming more popular.

In a virtual internship, you can work remotely while still gaining that valuable experience. However, as with traditional internships, there are pros and cons to doing an internship primarily on your own. Read on to find out what you must know about such an arrangement.

Competition for Positions May Be Stiffer

In a traditional internship, the applicant pool generally consists of candidates who live within commuting distance of a business. When a company opens up an opportunity for a virtual internship, applicants may live almost anywhere. In that case, it’s likely that you’ll be competing against far more qualified people.

You May Not Win a Full-Time Position

Companies with lower budgets may use virtual interns to staff short-term or small projects. That might mean the company doesn’t need you 40 hours a week. Of course, if your plate is full and you don’t need to get in a certain number of hours, this could be a good thing for you.

You’ll Have to Cover Your Own Expenses

One benefit of a traditional internship is that you go to a physical location and use the company’s own resources, such as computers and printers. If you’re doing an internship from school or home, you’ll most likely be footing the bill for those items yourself. Moreover, if your computer crashes, it’s your responsibility to get it fixed ASAP.

Virtual Internships Only Work in Certain Industries

A virtual intern can fill any job that a full-time telecommuter could. Examples of common fields include:

  • Graphic design
  • Social media management
  • Editing
  • Software and web development
  • Research
  • Accounting

Obviously, any profession that involves working with people or equipment, such as healthcare, would not be open to virtual interns.

Networking Won’t Come Easy

If you’re not working at the company’s physical location, you won’t be making many new in-person contacts. Sure, you’ll be emailing or Skyping the people you work with directly, but you won’t meet people from other departments in the hallway or the kitchen. If you crave social contact, you might find a virtual internship depressing. On the other hand, you’ll be able to connect online with people—possibly all over the country or the world—through intranets, LinkedIn, and other channels.

You May Not Learn Much About the Company

When you spend most of your internship in your own personal environment, you won’t witness the operations of the company. It’s possible that you won’t get a good feel for what goes on daily at such a business. When it’s time to search for a full-time position, having to dress up, commute, and deal with co-workers may be a bit of an adjustment.

You Need to Be a Self-Starter

If you always relied on your roommate to wake you up for your class, or you tend to be a daydreamer, you may find it extremely difficult to stay on task with a virtual internship. People may check up on you via phone calls or emails, but most of the time, you’ll need to be able to complete the work yourself without a lot of supervision.

Virtual Internships Offer Plenty of Benefits

While there are negatives you must consider, virtual internships work very well for the right people.

  • You can fit work in around another part-time job, family commitments, and other activities.
  • You won’t have to commute, so you’ll be safer, save money, and save the environment.
  • More companies are hiring full-time employees with the understanding that the employees will work from home. As this trend continues, you’ll be well prepared to start a telecommuting career after completing a virtual internship.
  • You won’t be micromanaged. If you’re an introvert or somebody who simply chafes at the idea of having a boss, less contact may be more comfortable for you.
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