Internships have become one of the most effective ways for young people to get their foot in the door with a company. By gaining hands-on experience, learning day-to-day business operations, understanding expectations, and discovering corporate culture, students and graduates have all the tools necessary to succeed. However, COVID restrictions have put a rift in the possibilities of typical face-to-face internships. But thanks to virtual opportunities, remote paid internships have soared in popularity—providing real-world experience and earnings in a work from home setting.
If you’re worried about remote internships during the COVID pandemic and beyond, here are some tips to set your mind at ease.
What Is a Remote Internship?
Unlike a traditional internship, a remote internship is a 100% virtual employment arrangement. Catered to current college students and recent graduates, these internships provide an opportunity for successful applicants to gain entry-level work experience with a legitimate company. Furthermore, some of these internships are also paid, giving students the opportunity to offset student loans or earn money for living expenses.
Remote paid internships come in a variety of industries. But the essential aspect is that the remote feature gives interns the opportunity for flexibility and work-life balance. Unlike years past, some interns may have plenty of experience in a remote setting due to COVID-era classes. Not only does this allow them to acclimate more quickly to remote work, but it also gives them the skills necessary to excel at a work from home position.
Benefits of Remote Paid Internships
Remote paid internships typically function on a temporary basis. And maybe that’s good news for the undeclared or constant major-changing individual. They offer a chance to get your feet wet without an overwhelming commitment or the “this is my life now” line of thinking.
But the opportunity also comes with a ton of other benefits prized by the young worker and future employers. While it may require a bit more responsibility—or autonomy due to COVID—remote paid internships pros certainly outweigh its cons. Here are just a few of the rewarding aspects.
Digital literacy and tech-savvy skills have become synonymous with the modern-age workplace. COVID has only intensified the need. But remote paid internships provide a threefold way to get real-world experience. First, you’ll build upon your digital skills with several technologies such as:
- Collaboration software, including programs such as Slack or Asana
- Videoconferencing software, such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams
- Other business programs depending on your major, such as G Suite, Quickbooks, Adobe PhotoShop, etc.
In addition to these digital skills, you’ll also get a basic idea of day-to-day operations at a company and how a day progresses from start to finish. This lets you understand what your future might look like in this career path or if you need to consider switching majors (again).
Finally, you can use the experience to learn virtual office etiquette and develop soft skills coveted by employees. Paired with extracurricular activities, a great work ethic, and top grades, you can become the ultimate intern-turned-employee.
Networking in person is difficult enough. But add in COVID and a fully remote networking process, and you might find yourself at a loss.
There’s nothing wrong with that. Many people who’ve never worked remotely can struggle with networking or building an online profile or presence. It just doesn’t have to be you. Use your new colleagues to your advantage to discover ways to network efficiently without the benefit of in-person chats and meet-and-greets.
Earn Some Money
The debate’s still out on paid vs. unpaid internships. Some employers see unpaid internships as free training. Others understand that even a bit of money can drastically help students and graduates get a footing after college.
But as a college student/graduate, you’re likely a proponent of the remote paid internship. And while real-world experience and networking are great, a little scratch never hurt anyone either. Just make sure to spend it wisely, i.e., a small savings account or to pay down some debt.
Discover How You Fit in
Every company has its own culture. And yet it’s up to you to decipher just what that culture is, and how you’ll fit in. Nothing’s more efficient for discovering how you’ll gel with ideals and colleagues than a remote paid internship.
Unless you have a specific company in mind that you want to intern for, do your best to learn about the company beforehand. Glassdoor, Indeed, and Google can provide some insight into the organization. But remember that these can also contain reviews from disgruntled employees or dissatisfied customers, regardless of who’s at fault. So tread lightly.
You can also leverage LinkedIn for some added due diligence. Before you apply to internships, hop on LinkedIn and find others that work for your company of choice. You just might find these individuals more than willing to talk to you if you provide a short note describing your interning aspirations.
Once you’ve landed the gig, remain upbeat and proactive. But also look out for certain warning signs that the company may not be a good fit. Perhaps they’re a bit too rigid or maybe they joke too much. Chances are you’ll know one way or the other, but being aware of potential pitfalls is crucial.
If your only jobs have been minimum wage positions, you may not have had high expectations placed on your performance. Turnover is often high in these positions, so employers don’t place much faith in many of these workers. This isn’t to say you lack a work ethic; the expectations of employers for college graduates is just another world.
Hopefully, your employer during a remote paid internship lays out all of their expectations within the first few days of onboarding. If not, you’ll have to quickly learn what’s acceptable, what’s unacceptable, and where your duties lie. A job description is a handy tool to see what’s expected, but if you love your internship, don’t be afraid to go above and beyond. And don’t forget: always ask questions. Your curiosity may pique the interest of your employer while also giving you handy information to improve your performance.
Put Your Knowledge to Work
You went through the grind of 20-page papers, pop quizzes, boring lectures, and probably a hundred other tough situations. But you made it this far. So what did you learn? A remote paid internship will let you know. Even if you aren’t up to entry-level job standard quite yet, learning terminology, basic job duties, and how your college degree applies to the role can boost your chances to find a job later. Just make sure to turn into a sponge and soak up that knowledge throughout your internship.
Other Benefits You May Not Have Thought About
The aforementioned benefits of remote paid internships are well-documented. But these other advantages still warrant a mention to further entice you into landing an internship:
- Learning how to create a home office
- Lessening your impact on the environment (no commuting, no company-wide utility bills, etc.)
- Work-life balance
- Ability to work from anywhere
- A certain degree of autonomy and independence
Top Employers for Remote Paid Internships
Now that you’re aware of all of the advantages of a remote paid internship, the next step is to find where you want to work. While some aspiring interns may have known the answer to this for a decade, others might not know where to start. But even those with a strong idea of where they want to work might not get their first choice.
Therefore, along with some research on company internships and culture, students and graduates should use the Virtual Vocations job database for options. With thousands of companies listing remote paid internships throughout the year, you can find the ideal fit for your present and future whether it’s a large corporation or a small business.
With a client list that includes Amazon, L’Oreal, Scholastic, and more, Barrel is a leading digital marketing content agency. Through its marketing strategy and business intelligence (MSBI) internship, the company allows interns to gain valuable experience and insight into a New York-based ad agency.
Based in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Bravo Group is a strategic communications and public relations firm. They’re also a provider of a paid internship program for current students. Available for 12 to 15 weeks in spring, summer, and fall, this internship allows students to work on projects with real-world clients. Internships are available in public relations and marketing depending on need and season.
Founded in 1941 by a group headed by Eleanor Roosevelt, Freedom House is one of the oldest NGOs (non-governmental organizations) in the nation. Dedicated to researching political freedoms, human rights, and democracy, the company has a highly acclaimed and competitive internship program. Internship openings are available year-round, allowing students to pursue their interests in everything from social media to foreign policy. Candidates outside of political science are still highly encouraged to apply.
JPMorgan Chase & Co.
As one of the largest banking institutions in the world, JPMorgan Chase & Co. has some of the most coveted and competitive internships in the country. While finance students may find these most helpful, the company also has internships for marketing and IT majors.
JPMorgan’s remote paid internships typically take place for 10-to-12 weeks over the summer. Most internships are only available to juniors; however, PhD and postgraduate internships are also available.
Consistently ranked as a top employer and one of the largest companies in the United States, Microsoft has a premier university internship program to boot. Most notably, remote paid internships are available to students of all levels, including those pursuing a bachelor’s, master’s, MBA, or PhD.
Internships are dependent on availability. However, opportunities are available to students in 10 different departments, ranging from sales to user experience (UX) to software development.
How to Choose a Remote Internship
Choosing an internship isn’t always easy. Sometimes, the competition is cutthroat. Other times, you may have put off applying and the window of opportunity closed. The idea is that just because you don’t get your first choice doesn’t mean you should let a remote paid internship go by the wayside.
Even if you haven’t discovered it yet, every experience in your life has some aspect that’s worth learning. So just because you’re not rubbing virtual elbows with people at your preferred company doesn’t mean your career is dead before it starts. There are an endless number of ways to get to the same result. Just make sure to use every opportunity that comes your way.
Remote internships provide a number of benefits that temporary jobs or entry-level positions outside your major can’t touch. All it requires is a bit of perseverance and dedication to the methods that dictate remote employment. But you’ve pushed through tough exams, late-night term papers, group projects, and horrifyingly boring lectures. You’re ready for the big time.
The perfect internship is out there. You just have to find it.
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