I know from experience that internships are a great way to gain career experience. I started working at NEXT for Women as an intern right after I graduated from college. I had a degree in marketing, but my internship at NEXT made me realize just how little I knew about marketing in the real world. My internship at NEXT filled in the blanks left by school and gave me much-needed practical knowledge.
But, for many women, location makes an internship like mine impossible. If you’re a soon-to-be shooting star in the world of finance, but you go to school in the middle of Indiana, how are you supposed to make your Wall Street debut?
That’s where so-called “virtual” internships come into play. A virtual internship is a non-traditional internship, which allows interns to “e-commute” from anywhere on the planet. It has been gaining popularity among college students, and many publications have talked about this virtual internship, including the Wall Street Journal and Businessweek. What is it about virtual internships that is so attractive to students? Here are some of the advantages of a virtual internship:
Compared to a traditional internship where you have to work at a certain time on certain days, many virtual internships allow you to work at anytime. This is especially great news for those who cannot commit to work on a regularly basis. Whether you have classes, part-time jobs or practices for your sports team, a virtual internship lets you make your own time for work.
2. More Choices, More Opportunities
Have you had an experience where you had an internship that you wanted badly, but couldn’t take because of the physical distance? Some areas just do not offer as many internship opportunities as you would find in cities like New York City or San Francisco. If you have extra money to relocate for an internship, go for it! However, in reality it is less likely, especially since many internships are unpaid. Do not let such a limitation ruin your opportunity. With a virtual internship, you will have more choices to choose from anywhere in the United States without worrying about relocation.
3. Find a Field Which Suits You the Best!
Because a virtual internship can require less commitment than a traditional internship, it gives those who are thinking to change their career a great opportunity to see what it is like to work in new areas. Are you thinking to change your major from Engineering to Business? Just try working for a virtual internship to see if this field fits for you.
There are, of course, disadvantages associated with a virtual internship. It requires you a great amount of self-discipline and time management. It is also harder for you to build a relationship with your co-workers as the only means of communication are e-mail or Skype. Thinking to try a virtual internship? Check out Urhan Interns and You Tern to find the best opportunity for you.
Any opinion on a virtual internship? Have some experience working for one? Comment here!
Mari Tanaka is Marketing Coordinator at NEXT for Women. She is originally from Japan and moved to the United States in 2009 for school. She loves learning and gaining new experience, and meeting new people!