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Navigating a virtual internship

Despite their drawbacks, they are great opportunities!

COVID-19 has forced many in-person internships to go virtual. To help you feel prepared for a virtual internship, we’ve outlined their benefits and drawbacks, below.  

Benefits of virtual internships 

  • Greater access: Since you can complete virtual internships right from the comfort of your own home, it’s now easier than ever to do an internship before you graduate.  
  • Work flexible hours: In general, virtual work doesn’t have to happen between 8:00-5:00. Work with your supervisor to figure out a schedule that will work best for both of you and still allow you to fulfill the needs of your internship.  
  • Save money & time: Since you won’t need to commute to your internship site, you will save money on travel and can use the time you would be commuting to get your work done instead.  
  • Enhance self-management skills: Working from home will help you gain skills in self-management and self-discipline. These skills will be great additions to your resume and be extremely useful to you throughout your career.  
  • Improve technology skills: Since you will be utilizing more technology platforms for your internship, you will become more tech savvy. This is a great skill you’ll be able to offer future employers.  
  • Build community: Because you won’t be able to get to know your colleagues in the lunch room, you will need to intentionally reach out to them to set up video chats or coffee phone calls to stay connected. In doing you, you will develop great community-building and networking skills that you can use with any future employers.  

Drawbacks to virtual internships  

  • Lack of motivation: Working from home can feel lonely, which can make it hard to muster up the motivation to keep working, day after day. To stay motivated, lean on your team, supervisor, and network to figure out a routine that will work best for you, and be prepared to adapt it as needed.   
  • Having no “office” experience: Understandably, you may be disappointed that you won’t be able to interact with your team at your physical office. However, it’s still important to collaborate and build relationships remotely. Be intentional about attending virtual team meetings and set up networking calls to help you feel like you’re an important part of the team, as you would be at the office. 
  • Different communication: Since you won’t be in the office, you can’t just stop by your supervisor’s office to check-in or ask for feedback like you normally might. So, at the very beginning of your virtual internship, be sure to establish clear learning objectives and at least a weekly check-in meeting with your supervisor to help you stay engaged, track your progress, and complete your work.   

By now, we hope you have more clarity on the ins and outs of virtual internships so you feel more prepared to participate in one. Despite their drawbacks, they are great opportunities! For more support, reach out to a Career Coach in the CPDC or a member of the Internship Council. Good luck!  

For more career-related posts, visit the Career & Professional Development Center Blog Peaks&Valleys.