With the growth of technological resources like Skype and Google Docs, an increasing number of virtual internships are popping up. Virtual internships are internships that allow interns to work remotely with periodic check-ins. Some employers who host virtual internships will have occasional face-to-face meetings, while others will check in via video call, phone calls, emails, etc.
Virtual internships allow interns to have a bit more freedom when it comes to their working hours. It also allows interns to work for a company that may be too far to commute to. For example, someone who lives in Bloomington could intern remotely for an organization in Valparaiso! However, with great freedom, comes great responsibility. Here are some things to keep in mind if you’re thinking about applying to a virtual internship:
How much time do you have?
If you already have a lot of things on your plate, you may want to think twice before accepting a virtual internship. Like a standard internship, a virtual position will have projects and deadlines that will require you to set aside time to complete. However, with a virtual internship you might not be checking in with your supervisor every day, so you’ll need to be extra aware of the time you’re setting aside to ensure that your projects are getting done.
What’s your working style?
Are you able to figure things out on your own, or do you enjoy more hands-on learning experiences? If you preferred the second option, a virtual internship may not be best suited for you. When you work remotely, your supervisor isn’t always going to be there to help solve problems. If you’re thinking about a virtual internship, you need to be comfortable with problem solving, working independently and learning things on the fly.
Are you organized?
Virtual internships require a lot of self-motivation and responsibility. Deadlines can quickly sneak up on you when you work remotely as compared to working in an office. When considering a virtual internship, be honest with yourself. Will you be able to keep yourself on track and motivated? Can you juggle multiple projects at once? Do you meet deadlines?
What does your schedule look like?
Virtual internships are convenient, because they can allow you to set your own timeline for meeting deadlines. If you have class in the morning and a part-time job in the afternoon, you may not have the time to go into an office during typical work hours. However, with a virtual internship, you could set aside time during the evenings to complete work. As long as you can make time in your schedule to complete projects for your internship, a virtual internship might be a great fit for you.
Do you have the proper technology?
If you’re going to work remotely, you need to have access to reliable internet and cell phone service. You also need to have any necessary software downloaded and up to date on your computer. When interviewing for a virtual internship, ask the interviewer about software/technology requirements. If you don’t have any of the programs mentioned, ask if the company will provide it.
Do you have a space to work?
While it sounds super tempting to do all of your work in your bed, you’ll feel much more productive and focused if you actually sit at a table or desk. Create a designated area for you to work that’s free of distractions, so you’ll be able to easily put yourself into a working mindset and focus on the tasks at hand.
Like a standard internship, it’s important to ask good questions during an interview for a virtual internship. Before accepting a remote position, ask your interviewer these questions:
- Does this position require any in-person meetings, and if so where would they take place?
- How will you be available to answer questions or help with challenges?
- Have you hosted a virtual intern before?
Make sure that the answers to these questions align with your work preferences. If they don’t it may be best for you to consider a different position. The most important thing is to ensure that you’ll be happy and productive at your internship!