Directing students to fall virtual internships

September 6, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Posted in Advising interns, Finding internships | Leave a comment
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Coach Susan Sandberg

Susan Sandberg

Many students are feeling the economic crunch and are working part-time to cover college costs. They worry about how they’ll be able to take fall internships with such a busy schedule. Other students, especially seniors, are concerned over getting a job upon graduation and want to take more internships this fall to add value to their academic degrees.  There are also students at rural schools located far from many businesses, who want internships.  The answer for all of them?

  • Virtual internships:  Virtual internships, which can be undertaken from anywhere with a broadband Internet connection, enable students to sample different fields while still going to classes and working. The most common virtual internships are in information technology, software development, research, sales, marketing, blogging, and social media. Companies want self-reliant, self-starters who are comfortable with web conferences, emails, and phone calls.
  • Questions students should ask:  How much mentoring and feedback will I receive? Who is my key point of contact and how often do we make contact? What is the type of work and what are the expectations? Will I receive payment or college credit?  Will I get a letter of reference? How many hours a week are involved and for how long a period? Could I view the work of former virtual interns? You might want to direct students to read Eye of the Intern blog (July 13) on Internships.com to learn about the virtual internship experience of Jacinda Green, an incoming senior at University of Alabama.
  • Pros and cons:  The positive benefits usually outweigh the negatives. Students can work remotely at their own pace at any location, ranging from dorm room, to home, to local coffee shop. If the project poses too many challenges, they can seek help on campus in figuring out the problem. They don’t have to worry about transportation costs or wardrobe expenses. The downside of virtual internships is that student interns rarely meet their boss or colleagues, reducing networking opportunities. However, since more and more full-time employees or consultants work remotely, a successful virtual internship experience might be an excellent way to illustrate the ability to work independently.
  • Growing volume of opportunities:  If you go to Internships.com, click on Internships search, type in Marketing, and check Virtual, you’ll find over 2,000 virtual marketing internships. Here are 2 examples:  Inshelf.com is looking for a qualified intern to join our marketing/advertising team. Our marketing department produces quality work for our company based out of the New York/New Jersey area, and seeks an intern who can participate in various stages of print and online marketing campaigns. Unpaid but with college credit. As a 1stGiG marketing intern, you will have the opportunity to create a customized marketing plan for your campus, while developing crucial leadership skills in an energetic and entrepreneurial environment. You will have the freedom to develop your own marketing plan, with support from 1stGiG.com! Part time and paid. This is just a tiny sample of what’s available in the booming field of virtual internships.

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