Virtual Internships – Yay or Nay?
is saving money and missing the annual office christmas party really worth it?
By Diana Odero, Chapman University
Some of you maybe wondering what virtual internships are. Well, in the most basic explanation, a virtual internship is an internship that can be done from the comfort of your own home, or in my case, wherever you can find Wi-Fi when your Internet is cut off. Note to future graduates; if you’ll be moving away from home after graduating, please find a place with a reliable internet provider, its for your own good believe me.
Virtual internships have a lot of advantages like never having to see your boss EVER. But they can also bring about some disadvantages like missing out on major work events due to you not being in the same location as the company you work for. In regards to my own virtual internship experience, I’ll point out some pros and cons of having such an internship incase any of you is considering going this route.
PRO: Freedom to plan your own schedule. This may just be the best perk yet. Not many people get to pick and choose their own schedules at internships unless you work at companies that are quite flexible. But when you work virtually, you can work at anytime. Sure some companies would like you to stick to a 9-5 schedule like any normal employee physically at their offices, but most likely than not you will be able to work faster on your own time thus completing tasks earlier than usual. I’m a night owl and completely allergic to early morning wake up calls. So I tend to get most of my work done throughout the evenings and late into the night, therefore avoiding tossing my phone when the alarm rings and getting up at an hour conducive for me. One thing to remember, despite having this freedom, always make sure your work is done ON TIME and as perfectly as can be.
CON: Missing the office experience. The whole point of an internship is to get a feel of how the company works on a daily basis. So a virtual internship kind of takes away from that experience and when you actually get a full time job at an actual office environment, it will feel kind of foreign to you as opposed to familiar. You miss out on office gossip, on getting to know your colleagues one on one seeing as you would be spending close to 10hrs a day with them… That’s what I actually miss about it, being surrounded by people, being able to fully experience the work force. I don’t miss the annoying morning and evening commute though, that’s one thing I am so grateful I don’t have to go through daily.
PRO: Having an outside voice. I tend to think that virtual interns are valued more than actual interns who are physically there. Correct me if I’m wrong but virtual interns seem to have a stronger voice as they are not under the eye of scrutiny and authority all the time and thus I think they are able to think more out of the box than other interns within an office. It’s not usual that they are asked for an opinion about office matters but when they are, it’s considered more than the opinion of in-office interns. So it feels good to know your voice still matters even when you are not part of the daily 9-5 office routine.
PRO: In addition to the point above, virtual internships essentially garner you more responsibility especially since you are not physically there to receive training. You are trusted with sensitive information, you are given the responsibility for ensuring the functioning of whatever database your company may be using, and you are being trusted to fully represent the company in a good light. A good example is the virtual summer internship I had with The College Tourist. As a guest blogger, I was part of a summer team of writers who were to blog about their summer adventures, the theme being Live Like A Local wherever in the world we were. The intern co-ordinator did a good job of sending out precise instructions and scheduling a list of topics for everyone to cover every week and we were also given access to the blog to be able to personally write and edit our work as well as the company’s Instagram page to be able to post images of different areas of our locations and events we attended, just to show that we were indeed ‘Living like Locals’.
By doing this, I realized that I wasn’t the only College Tourist in NYC this past summer and it was cool to see all the different experiences we got in one similar location. By being able to practically run the site yourself along with others in different parts of the world, you gain a sense of self worth, knowing you are largely contributing to a global student platform, gaining exposure and influencing young people everywhere.
PRO: Saving hundreds, even thousands of dollars in gas money and lunch money. This has got to be the best advantage ever. Virtual means you don’t have to drive through crazy traffic or take several buses/trains to and from the work place and also, you don’t have to worry about what you’ll have for lunch or spend that 4$ on a latte at Starbucks – EVERYDAY. And if it’s a paid internship, even better, make more money while saving all the rest for a rainy day…
Anyway, all in all, it seems the pros outweigh the cons in this one… But again, this is just in my experience, some of you may think differently and that’s perfectly okay. Feel free to comment on your experience as a virtual intern and let us know if it was a yay or nay experience for you!