With home-based jobs popping left and right in fields that aren’t traditionally accommodating to remote work, such as doctors or bookkeeping, it’s understandable why many college students are trying to find out if there are actually legitimate internships from home.
Who wouldn’t want to complete internship credits at the comfort of their own homes, right?
Join me as I try to investigate everything you need to know about online internships.
Do virtual internships exist?
And if so, are there paid internships from home?
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The quick answer is YES.
There are virtual and paid internships, but as you might have guessed, they come few and far in between and they’re very quickly filled. Plus, not all industries are able to offer virtual internships because the work involves face-to-face interactions.
When it comes to virtual internships, the curse of social media managers remain the most important thing to watch out for. Many companies believe that for interns to be able to work remotely, the only job fit for them to perform involve manning the company’s social media accounts.
Although social media is usually one of the tasks performed by interns across all industries, internships do not have to be exclusive to this role.
Instead, internships should:
- Give interns industry-specific skills – Studying business management in school is one thing, but actually putting what you’ve learned into action is the next step. Internships give students a platform to gain new skills and practice what they know in a real-life setting.
- Provide interns with work experience – After graduating college, job-hunting will prove to be challenging for those who didn’t complete an internship. This is because companies prefer to hire people with experience, even if the “experience” only involves a couple of months of internship.
- Allow interns to network within their future industry – Working as an intern gives them an opportunity to meet people and build their professional contact list.
- Build confidence – Since interns are learning every day (either by doing or through observation) within a specific business, they gradually become more confident in their chosen field. This will show during interviews when ex-interns try to land their place in real-world jobs, as they convince certain HR folks that they’re the best one for the position.
Pros and Cons of Internships from Home
As someone who has had my fair share of working from home (and also an office-based employee of a company), I can guarantee that both set-ups have their ups and downs.
And since internships are just like regular work, the pros and cons of completing internships from home are almost the same.
Pros of Virtual Internships
The biggest advantage of virtual internships is the flexibility it gives college students.
Most often, internships are required in the junior or senior years, which is also the busiest time of their schooling.
This flexibility give you more freedom and control over your time, so you can take your courses or work part-time all while completing an internship as well.
Because you are allowed to complete your internship tasks remotely, you can do them at home, in school, or wherever your obligations need you to be during your “shift.”
When it comes to improvement of skills, doing your internships from home will develop three major skills:
- Communication skills – Skype is there for face-to-face meetings, but most of the communication between the intern and his/her superiors would involve e-mail and messaging apps. If you’re used to communicating verbally, you can always call and video-chat instead of e-mailing and sending text messages, but as you progress with your internships, you’ll be able to notice the refinement in your communication skills.
- Time management skills – Doing your partial (or entire) internship remotely means you’d have to plan and prioritize your tasks. Interns may not find this skill as useful now, but once they begin their careers, they’ll soon realize how juggling tasks effectively can impact their overall performance at work.
- Computer skills – Most of the tasks involved in online internships are digitized. Although many people today are up-to-date with the latest gadgets, apps and tools, learning what is used within the industry you want to built a career on is actually useful.
Cons of Online Internships
You might think that completing your internship from home is all good, but know that this set-up isn’t for everybody.
For example, if you’re used to being around people while working, you’d feel quickly isolated without “officemates” throughout your internship stint.
There’s an easy fix for this: You can still be around family or friends as you do your internship and not feel isolated.
However, it doesn’t change the fact that as an intern working remotely, company news, memos, instructions from your superior, or other updates may not be given to you in real time.
As such, there would be times that you’ll be out of the loop or experience miscommunications.
The biggest disadvantage of virtual internships is that completing tasks on your own require discipline and self-motivation.
Most people develop this sense of discipline in school, but if you’re a late bloomer and was waiting for your first job to practice your work ethics, online internships could become a struggle for you.
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Where to Find Companies Offering Internships from Home
You can find virtual internships traditionally and online.
- Traditional sources – Referrals from your professors and your school’s career center are traditional sources of internship leads, but they require submitting applications and interviews before landing the internship program. Sometimes, internships are already part of your chosen course, so you’re lucky if you are given options for remote internships.
- Online sources – Your first bet is to check out industry-specific career websites. For example, if you’re studying pre-law, look for law career sites and check available internship programs there.
- Internships.com – Like InternQueen, this website has been around for a long time, even before Chegg.com acquired the original Internships.com in 2014. No matter which company owns it, the site remains one of the most comprehensive internship listings you could find.
- InternQueen – This is Lauren Berger’s blog and she’s been helping young professionals land internships and jobs for over a decade. Aside from virtual internship leads, there are also a ton of solid advice available here.
- LinkedIn – The cool thing about LinkedIn is that the companies themselves post internship programs, so you’re guaranteed that there are slots available.
- VirtualInternships.com and other similar paid services – Companies like VirtualInternships are involved in the placement of interns in fields like business, legal, marketing, engineering, IT, and so on. They remove the need to dig for the best internship program for you, but their services are pretty expensive, especially for young professionals who are just starting out their careers.
- Note that India is probably the biggest supporter of remote internships, so don’t be surprised if the results of your online search is filled with India-based companies. Stick with Internships.com, InternQueen, LinkedIn and popular career sites like Indeed, Glassdoor, Dice.com, and CareerBuilder, among others.
The Low Down on Internships from Home
You don’t have to sacrifice your part-time job, family time, or extracurricular activities while completing your internship credit requirements in school. With virtual internships and the skills needed to perform jobs remotely, you’ll be able to juggle everything your way.