The Virtual Internship

from Serendipity35

Internships for college students (and sometimes high school students) have long been a good experience. They help young people develop a professional aptitude, learn real-world skills, and often create an opportunity for a follow-up job. They took a hit during the pandemic with offices closed and a reluctance on both sides to be out in the world.

Virtual internships became a thing. I assume some existed before but not in great numbers. I read about some undergrads at Brown University who began Intern From Home in March 2020. They wanted to salvage internships during the pandemic for classmates with a free, simple-to-use platform. They were connecting students at more than 200 colleges with virtual internships and it looks like they have doubled that.

They were not the first to do this. Sites like virtualinternships.com offer college and high school students internship opportunities.

More here.

Posted in Careers, Education and tagged , , , , .

14 Comments

  1. Internships are the most important thing a college student can get in my opinion. They allow you to get experience in the field you want to make career of. This article talks about the Virtual Internships being made with the coronavirus pandemic. I believe these are still a great alternative as you still get the information and hands on experience. Most companies do most of their work online already. These internships, no matter if they are online, can open doors you’d never expect. Many people will tell you internships are the most important thing one can do at college. My Business Writing professor tells us all the time that if an opportunity comes up for an internship, take it. Don’t worry if you have to miss a class, that the internship could be a once in a lifetime opportunity that could open so many doors. So no matter if the Internship is in person or online, do it.

  2. I believe getting an internship during college is just as important as maintaining your GPA. The main reason I went to college was to gain experience in the accounting field and internships are the best way to do so. Last year the coronavirus pandemic played a big part in recruitment for internships because the annual career fairs held at Rider were held virtually. Most of the internships that were offered were virtual internships because of the coronavirus restrictions. That spring, I received a tax internship offer from a local accounting firm, but it was not a virtual internship. I was offered the opportunity to work virtually but I wanted the full experience of an in-person internship to gain valuable work experience. I am grateful for the opportunity they presented me as it gave me a different perspective on the tax side of accounting, which allows me to explore other areas of my field.

    During the peak of the pandemic, in-person internships were not possible because of the social distancing restrictions and virtual internships provided a safer way to do business. These virtual internships give the employer and the employee different options regarding how they work, but the percentage of interns who were satisfied with their virtual internship is less than those who had an in-person internship (Ronkowitz). In the future I wish to continue working in-person, as it is easier to network with professionals in my field as well as gain confidence in my abilities as an accountant.

    The author of the article. Kenneth Ronkowitz, reminisced to the time he was a college student. He talked about a few fellow undergraduates who took internships in the fields they each wanted to pursue after college. He mentioned that after they had their internships the students realized that they didn’t want to pursue that career anymore. Internships are not only ways to gain experience in the field you want to pursue, but they also allow you to taste what that job is like. It is important to get an internship early in your college career to make sure you are on the right path. The worst thing that could happen is studying four years in a field that you are not interested in. All in all, internships whether virtual or in-person, allow for students to gain real world experience in the field they are studying. It really is a great opportunity that gives students a look into the future of what’s to come. Virtual internships gave everyone the chance to still experience internships, despite the global pandemic.

  3. As a part of the Stillman school of business it is a requirement that we participate in two internships by the time that we graduate. This article caught my eye because I am getting to the point where I have the find an internship opportunity for this upcoming summer. Although that is very far away, it is very possible that covid-19 will still be affecting us and that virtual internships will be more common than years before covid-19. The whole point of an internship is to gain work experience, explore career paths, help find a possible job, and gain confidence for your future career that you wish to pursue. The virtual internship experience doesn’t give you these much-needed experiences, and in fact based on studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, they found that there were higher levels of dissatisfaction with virtual internships compared to in-person internships. After reading this article I understand the importance of making sure that you don’t fall in to “the trap” that is the virtual internships. As someone who has only worked retail my few years of high school and the summertime I yet to experience the “real world” of working in business. I ma making it a goal to find an internship that allows me t go in and get a hands-on experience with the career that I want to pursue. I especially want to do this to make sure that I am finding the career path that is best suited for who I am. My parents have made it very clear that they want me to do something that I will enjoy for the rest of my life. Which is one of the reasons that I switched my majors during my sophomore year. Without the in-experience I will not get the experience needed to determine how I feel about my future career path. I would also like to get paid for my hard work, and according to the research done by UW-Madison 42% of online internships were unpaid compared to 35% of in-person internships that were unpaid in 2020.

    • COMMENT EDITED / FINAL DRAFT:
      As a part of the Stillman school of business it is a requirement that we participate in two internships by graduation. This article caught my eye because I am getting to the point where I have the find an internship opportunity for this upcoming summer. Although that is far away, it is very possible that Covid-19 will still be affecting us and virtual internships will be more common than years before. The whole point of an internship is to gain work experience, explore career paths, help find a possible job, and gain confidence for your future career that you wish to pursue. The virtual internship experience doesn’t give you these much-needed experiences. Based on studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, there were higher levels of dissatisfaction with virtual internships compared to in-person internships. After reading this article I understand the importance of making sure that you don’t fall in to the “trap” that is the virtual internships. As someone who has only worked retail I am yet to experience the “real world” of working in business. I am making it a goal to find an internship that allows me to go in and get hands-on experience with the career that I want to pursue. I want to do this to make sure that I am finding the career path that is best suited for who I am. My parents made it clear that they want me to do something that I will enjoy for the rest of my life. This is one of the reasons why I switched my major during my sophomore year. I will not get the experience needed to determine how I feel about my future career path in a virtual internship. I would also like to get paid for my work, and according to the research done by UW-Madison 42% of online internships were unpaid compared to 35% of in-person internships that were unpaid in 2020.

  4. After reading this article on virtual internships, I found that I was able to gather both the pros and the cons of this new concept. I think it’s great that virtual internships allow for college and high school students to still have an opportunity to have an internship during this pandemic, however, I would not go as far to say that this form is better than the in-person experience. Not only did this article point out that students reported higher dissatisfaction with virtual internships, but I also have first-hand experience with the internship process and the opinions that came with both versions. When I was in high school, I was a part of this business academy that required me to complete an internship over the summer in order to graduate. This process took place during the peak of the pandemic, which obviously made virtual internships not only more favorable, but more realistic given the circumstances. Regardless, my motivation for not wanting to be in a virtual environment allowed me to find an accounting internship with this local chemical transport company. I found this in-person internship to be greatly beneficial to my skill-set in this field as I was able to learn from my physical mistakes and actually complete tasks in person. On the other hand, I had a lot of friends who said their virtual internships were not only boring, but also uninformative. That they did not actually get to do anything except listen to a person lecture to them like they do in class. I understand that this type of internship serves as substitute that is better than nothing during these times of uncertainty, however, I do not think it will ever be a replacement or even comparable to in-person internships.

  5. As someone who did not get an internship this summer, I am desperate to get one this upcoming summer. Besides not wanting to work at the same job that I worked at over the last summer, I believe an internship can help me in numerous ways. First of all, as someone pursuing a bachelor’s degree in marketing, there are a wide variety of career paths that I can follow in the future. I could use my degree to work in various fields such as sales, social media or analytics. By doing an internship as one of those positions, I can help determine what I want to do with my bachelor’s degree and what I do not want to do with it. In addition, the worst case scenario for my internship could be that I hate my position and realize I want to change my concentration of study altogether. However, despite how this would be unideal, it would be better for me to learn that I want to study something else so I can pursue a degree that I will use and not waste the money my family has worked hard to earn.
    It is great that internships have become more common since they can have so many benefits to college students. However, it was disappointing to read that many of the virtual internships went to people that identified as living in the upper middle or upper social class. I understand that people in the middle and upper classes have more resources and opportunities and how many people in the lower social classes do not even get the chance to continue their education after high school. Nevertheless, reading that was very discouraging since this statistic showcases the big divide between the social groups in our country. It was also disappointing to read that most of the people who did virtual internships did not like them. Personally, I think being virtual would take away a lot from the experience. However, I think there would be a couple of benefits from doing a virtual internship. First of all, working virtually could force people to stay up to date with technology which would be great for them in the long run. Secondly, working from home would save interns costs like gas money. Therefore, while I would prefer an in person internship, I would still be very open to a virtual internship.

  6. I feel that internships can be good for a college student but for some it may not be beneficial for them. A reason that an internship can be good is because it gives you experience in the field that you’re obtaining your degree in. Or the internship could potentially land you the job that you’ve been waiting for. When applying for a job they’re usually looking to see how many years of experience you have in that field or a degree. But if you don’t have either chances you may not land the job unless you get lucky. It’s definitely hard trying to find a job while you’re in school because unless you have so many years worth of experience or a degree it’s near to impossible to find a job. This is why an internship can be a good way to get your foot in the door at a company or to siml[y just gain some experience. Gaining experience will definitely look good on your resume when you go to get that big job. It also gives you an idea of what that field is actually like so that way you know if you would like it or not. Internships may not be beneficial for some students because; if they’re unpaid you’re not making any money, another reason is if you already have a job you would have to work your regular job, while keeping on top of school, and you’re also working with potentially not making any money. Working an unpaid internship you’re taking the chance of making a pay cut. If you can’t work at your other job for the time being so you can do your internship then you’re taking a pay cut. It is near to impossible to take that chance because there’s this lovely thing called bills. Hopefully they usually offer more paid internships than unpaid. It would be convenient for it to be paid because you get the experience as well as a little extra cash along the way.

  7. I’ve been looking for internships for a while now and hopefully I will have one by this summer. An internship is a very important part of a young professional’s career. The article does a great job in laying out all of the reasons why internships are so important. To use accounting as an example, there are many career paths one can take with an accounting major. An internship can help you pick out the path you want to take in your career. If you take a tax internship and you decide that it is not a great fit for you, an internship can be taken in an audit position to see if you like it better. It can also help you realize the differences between small, mid, and large sized firms and which you enjoy working for. Internships can really help you sculpt your career path along with building up the skills needed to succeed in your career. Across all industries, companies prefer hiring candidates with experience. According to NACE Job Outlook 2021, “experience is (almost) required as students with a paid internship received nearly 50% more job offers than those who had an unpaid internship or no internship”(NACE, 2021). Internships are a great way to build up your resume and help you stand out from other candidates. In many ways, internships can be just as if not more important than maintaining your GPA. In fact, according to the same NACE Job Outlook, internship with the organization, internship within the industry, and general work experience all ranked higher than maintaining a high GPA in their list of “7 Things That Give You an Advantage in the Job Market”(NACE, 2021). It is one thing to be able to excel in the classroom but is another thing to be able to take your skills into the workplace. Employers look for candidates who have taken that step into the workplace and have gained the experience necessary to excel in the position they are applying for.

    Due to the pandemic, it has been tricky for students to take that important step in their careers as was mentioned in the article. Virtual internships have helped students get the necessary experience while offices were closed, away from the risks of in person work during the pandemic. Sadly, it is hard to get the full experience of an internship from your own home, which is why many students do not enjoy virtual internships. However, virtual internships have many positives not mentioned in the article. For example, virtual internships cut the need for travel, which allows for much more job opportunities. Many internships require a minimum amount of hours that you must be able to work per week. With some people like me who have an awkward schedule, it is hard to imagine how you can fit an internship into your schedule. Virtual internships make it much easier as you can just log in and work when you can, in the matter of seconds. Also since virtual internships eliminate the need for travel, you can have an internship in a location an hour away without the need to take an hour out of your schedule for travel. There is also the cost factor in that you save a lot of money by not having to travel to a different location every day. Virtual internships are certainly not the greatest in terms of engagement and learning as the article mentions, but they do have their advantages.

  8. The article “The Virtual Internship” talks about the recent increase to the quantity and quality of virtual internships over the past year. Before the pandemic, virtual internships were a thing, they just weren’t as a common as they are today. The main point of an internship is to walk in the shoes of those who career you are interning. It’s not easy to do that online from home. Like just about everything, the recent pandemic made it difficult and unsafe to have students intern in person. One thing that the pandemic showed us however is that doing things from home can be just as engaging as it would be in person. Much like school, instead of stopping helpful internship programs, they adapted to the current conditions. Online internship programs became more popular. In order to keep up with the demand, the quality of online internships improved. I’m actually a big fan of this. Internships are great opportunities that students should be able to look forward to attending during college. Even though the online internship experience may not be as fulfilling as it is in person, it’s still something worth doing. Some of these online internships were paid internships. Getting paid to do something that you’re interested in doing for a career while in the comfort of your own home sounds amazing. The article also talks about the type of students who received online internship opportunity. A study made by the College Work force center shows that a large majority of the students who attended internships this year come from the middle and upper class. As seen, online internships seemingly have a privilege requirement meaning the more money you have the more likely you’ll be a part of an internship program. Yes, this is unfortunate, I don’t get why the article added this statistic. In my opinion, it’s an obvious fact that upper class families are more likely to enroll their children into internship programs. Online internships are most likely very expensive. Some families probably don’t think the high price is worth it due to their current financial situation. Overall, adding this detail in the article was a stretch.

  9. Thanks to the new reality we live in, new ways of working and living are presented as the most convenient to be able to continue with our lives and in a way to evolve. One of these modalities, which already existed in the past but which has intensified and positioned itself since the pandemic is the virtual internships. Distance professional internships allow students to develop their work fundamentally outside the company’s physical facilities, in a more flexible schedule, and through the use of information and communication technologies. The ease of doing non-face-to-face internships and the flexibility of schedules are what most attract students. This modality of internships allows a better acquisition, development and improvement of knowledge related to new technologies, which are a tool for communication and management both at work and at universities. The most basic requirements are the use of a computer and a stable internet connection. Besides being implemented here in the United States, this format is also being implemented in several European countries. This work facilitates the application of the theory learned during the university career and allows the student to have an approach to the working world and how it could develop in their area of study. The implementation of this format brings with it several advantages, among them we have: Expansion of the labor and professional network inside and outside the country; They manage to connect collaborating institutions and students at the state level without relocation expenses; They promote equal opportunities and conciliation between the personal, work and academic life of the students; It also favors students who, due to their particular situation, do not have the same opportunities for internships (because they are geographically distant or do not have the means to travel); It promotes autonomous learning processes, to the point of generating substantial changes in the pedagogical relationships established between students and teachers; It brings with it a better training of future employees, with greater autonomy and control over their obligations. Undoubtedly, the establishment of new virtual work environments to develop virtual professional practices is presented as an ideal solution and alternative to alleviate many students’ needs. In this way, the same flexibility of time and space can be obtained in the curricular practices to carry out other activities within the career.

  10. First and foremost, I believe receiving an internship while attending college is essential for all students. The primary reason I chose to participate in college instead of working typically 9-5 jobs straight out of high school was that I wanted to attain information on management skills, while also gaining hands-on experience through internships. During my first year of college, Seton Hall held their annual career fair, which was an opportunity for all students to come out and seek the opportunity of landing an internship within their specific field of study. Luckily Covid-19 did not ruin that for me, but I could only imagine how different things would have been if Covid-19 did play a factor. For instance, it would cause a massive dent in number of students searching for internships, the internships would be virtual, and the internees wouldn’t be getting the full experience. When Covid-19 was at its all-time high, that resulted in people having to social distance, quarantine, and stay inside for a number of days. Statistically, when you compare the internees who were satisfied with their virtual internship to the typically internship before Covid-19, data will show that they were significantly more unsatisfied than the others (Ronkowitz). Therefore since virtual internships left a negative impact on student experiences, I believe that companies/employers should no longer offer this type of internship; for any possible reason. Instead, I think it would be best for all college students to take the traditional route and seek to attain an in-person internship due to the results showing it would be more affective.

  11. There is no doubt that the effects of COVID 19 has had its fair share of impact on the hiring world. With business closing down and others going into hiding out of fear, there was not really a way to get that unique internship experience. Especially with being online for school, having an online internship is just about the same as online school, it’s just not the original and authentic internship experience that someone would want. I personally tried to get an internship with the car manufacturer BMW as a sales representative, and I was at most excited for it. Though, this was a little after COVID had started because I wasn’t eligible to get one at the start. To cut to the chase, I got the internship, big whoop, what do I do now? Well I got an email with a Zoom link, and I had originally thought it was for the first meeting just to get some things squared away and whatnot, as well as to go over some policies regarding the internship. I remember then joining the meeting and waiting briefly until the first sentence was “Good morning everyone, as you know we have given you all a Zoom link as this will be a virtual internship”. After that I immediately left and sent an email to the department stating that I would be withdrawing from the program. I turned down an internship with one of the most sophisticated automobile manufacturers in the world, and I went to work as a Lifeguard instead at the pool. Many people may not agree with that but at the end of the day, internships I believe are supposed to be in person where you can get basic human interaction as well as gain that real internship experience. Some may argue that being virtual is more convenient, and I would have to agree with that, but I feel as though people don’t really learn as well from being behind a giant screen all day, it’s like turning into a zombie.
    After reading this article, it does a great job with listing the various reasons as to why an internship is so important for someone who is so young, and looking for real work world experiences. The importance of getting an internship is also something that I feel is stressed because it is all about getting you ready for the real world. Though sometimes this always doesn’t work out because the author of the article (Kenneth Ronkowitz), states that he has had friends get internships in their desired fields, but ended up not liking them. With this being a normal event, it allowed them to get a sense for what they REALLY wanted in life. To summarize, internships are a key tool to have in one’s toolkit, as they can learn the basic methods and obtain new knowledge of the work world.

  12. When I hear my classmates talk about their internship from their first year of college, I cannot help but feel happy for them but also threatened. I am going into my second year of college, and I have yet to apply or interview for a single internship. I have not even researched what my options are. Internships are an important part of gaining professional experience for your major and whether you like it or not, so I am unsure why I have been putting off internship stuff, especially since there is a lot of competition in the business field.
    I have mixed feelings about virtual internships. On one side, I find virtual internships nice and convenient while on the other side, I find them unnecessary and lazy. The purpose of internships is to develop professional skills and knowledge and I am unsure how someone can learn professional skills via Zoom. For computer programmers, for example, I understand having virtual internships for that field of work since pretty much everything is just coding programs online, however, virtual internships are not practical for most fields. Although it would be nice to have access to my work computer and documents 24/7, I would struggle to submit good-quality work because of the online factor. When my school was virtual because of the pandemic, I was incredibly lazy, and my work ethic sharply declined. During class, I would be doing everything than paying attention to my classes so if I had a virtual internship I would do the same. As a society, we have become too dependent on the Internet. As is, my screen time is around nine hours so if I had a virtual internship, I would be looking at a screen for much longer, which would not be beneficial for my sanity or my mental health. For some people, virtual internships are their only option, so I am glad that there are many sites and companies that offer virtual internship opportunities, however, I prefer in-person internships over virtual ones.
    I do not agree with internships being unpaid. Interns spend a lot of time and effort to provide high-quality work to land them full-time offers so an exchange for their hard work, they should be compensated. If companies do not pay their interns, they are ultimately taking advantage of their employees, who are typically aged 18-22. Working as an intern is similar to working a minimal-wage job, someone is providing service and work for another person, therefore they should be paid. Internships, regardless of whether it is virtual or not, being paid should be the new standard.

  13. Hybrid working/learning has changed the way our society operates and how we network as students. Prior to the pandemic virtual internships were practically non-existent, but with the pandemic making it virtually impossible to go in person to the workplace, changes had to be made in order for our economy to function properly. The pandemic crumbled the global economy and made international trading, twice as expensive, and twice as difficult. Despite the difficulties, alternating operations was essential to a functioning global economy. The online business world was changed forever, ever since the introduction of hybrid workspaces and hybrid work environments. The article “The Virtual Internship” by Serendipity35 describes how students found internship opportunities in the new age of a hybrid workspace.
    One of the first colleges to provide virtual internship opportunities to their students was Brown University toward the beginning of the pandemic. Obviously, they weren’t the first to offer these opportunities considering the internet has been around for an extensive amount of time, however they are one of the founders in the new trend of virtual internships. Internships are extremely important in developing an individual into having work environment skills and preparing them for the career they are pursuing. Internships provide the greatest connections a student can achieve prior to finding a job, so acquiring one during your college experience is essential to finding a good job post-grad. Internships provide a variety of benefits some which are as follows “Gain valuable work experience, Explore a career path, Give yourself an edge in the job market, Develop and refine skills, Receive financial compensation. Network with professionals in the field, Gain confidence, Transition into a job” (Ronkowitz). As one can tell acquiring an internship during your college experience most definitely boosts your position in the playing field of job competition, however finding a good internship was not always so readily available.
    In the age of virtual internships, internship opportunities have become more common due to the availability of both virtual and in person internship opportunities. Despite being more readily available there is still discrimination amongst who gets first access to these opportunities “It is disappointing that a new study of online internships shows that, among more than 10,000 students at 11 colleges, most virtual internships last year went to students in middle- and upper-income families. Also more positions were unpaid than paid” (Ronkowitz). Overall virtual internships had both positive and negative impacts on the student body of the hybrid learning era, but allowed a path for a more technologically advanced future.

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