Virtual internships are the latest and greatest in the internship world. Students from across the globe are participating in these virtual opportunities no matter where they live or where they go to school. In many ways, virtual internships have opened a window of opportunity for those with busy schedules, financial constraints and young children at home (and also for those who go to school in remote locations). Below are a few reasons why we love virtual internships:
• Free up more time: When you don’t have to get in your car, catch the bus or walk blocks and blocks to your internship, you free up more time. Several of my virtual interns are able to leave class at 2 p.m. and start their internship by 2:15 p.m. because they are just going from class to their dorms. If they were going to an in-office internship, they probably wouldn’t be able to start at 3 p.m. or after due to the travel time and traffic.
• Flexible: Some virtual internships require strict weekly time requirements (just as an in-office internship would) and others run on a per-project basis. If you have children at home or work several hours per day, finding something that lets you operate on your own time might work well for you.
• Improve focus and ability to self-motivate: It’s not easy to sit in front of a computer all day long. Those of us who work from home understand the challenges it presents on a daily basis. A virtual internship teaches students how to work from their home, computer lab, library or local coffee shop. They are forced to develop tactics that help with focus and self-motivation.
• Communicate in out-of-the-box ways: During a virtual internship, you don’t get the face time you would normally have in an office environment. Therefore, you are forced to enhance your communication skills in other ways (Skype, texting, phone calls, conference lines and emails). Since we live in a world where technology rules, learning to effectively communicate through these means can only help prepare students for the professional world after college.
• Access to companies outside of your region: Why be limited to the businesses near your school? Virtual internships make it possible to intern with companies headquartered in big cities, build relationships and work with national brands.
• Work/life balance: Another perk of learning how to work from home or school is that you start to develop work/life balance strategies. When your work is in your home, it is crucial to maintain a sense of personal space and sanity. A virtual internship can help a young person learn to separate, turn “off” every so often and manage his or her time wisely.
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