When searching for internship or work experience, you may come across opportunities that promote online or remote positions. While these opportunities have a wide breadth of benefits, understanding the nuances of virtual opportunities will be important.
Let’s start with the basics.
What is a Remote Internship?
Call it what you will: Remote Internship, Virtual Internship, Online Internship, Tele-working, Telecommuting, it all means the same thing: you will be completing your internship without a commute and directly from your own laptop.
Remote internships mean that you can work with companies across the country or globe to support a myriad of projects ranging from basic social media support to full business projects, website designs, market reports, financial assessments, usability testing code, and much much more. When completing a remote internship many of the same aspects of a traditional in-person internship still exist including, meetings with your supervisor or teammates, completing a mix of individual and group projects, and learning about the overall company culture and industry it works in. Unlike a traditional internship there may exist much more flexibility in the hours you work, project timelines, and how you connect with your team.
So why should you consider a remote internship?
The ability to work wherever you, your laptop, and an internet connection exists can be freeing. Taking on an opportunity to work virtually can increase your access to different positions and specific companies that you may be targeting but are physically unable to get to due to finances, travel limitations, or ongoing obligations at home. For students in rural communities it can allow you to access larger companies who are based in more urban areas without going through the stress of relocation. If gaining work experience outside your home country is your goal, it also allows you to readily support international companies without navigating the tricky visa process.
It is estimated that some 70% of workers work remotely 1+ days a week. Remote work requires understanding of digital communication, adherence to a discipline and focus, and strong initiative. By completing a remote internship you will be able to gain crucial skills that will apply to your future work regardless if it is 100% remote or 100% in-person. Allowing yourself to set goals, ensure that you stay focused despite at-home distractions, and take initiative to ask for new projects or meet your team virtually will carry over to future success in your future employment.
Due to physical distance and potentially differing time zones, connecting in real time the majority of the work day may be impossible. This means that key tasks that you are assigned will less likely be ad hoc and day to day but focussed on larger scale projects that you can tackle over 2-8 weeks. Through completing these projects you will have additional prime real estate to add to your resume/CV upon completing the internship. Despite the remote nature of your work through completing these projects you will have also gained a network of colleagues and professionals that can help you explore your future career management and look to industries and companies outside of your current location.
Remote work let’s step outside of the traditional 9-5 and gain flexibility in your work schedule. This will allow you to complete a part-time internship as a full-time student or connect with a global company that allows you to work evenings so it overlaps with their daytime hours. Furthermore, remote internships remove the pesky commute and traffic which is large cities around the world ranges from 30 minutes to an hour and half one way. Getting this time back will give you more time to focus on personal projects.
An internship regardless if paid or not, can start to easily accrue costs whether it is as basic as the gas or public transportation fare you pay to get to and from work or as significant as moving to another city or country to pursue an opportunity, these costs add up over time. A remote internship gives you the opportunity to work across the globe but save money from relocating or commuting.
Increasing your network is a sure fire way to gain access to employment opportunities post graduation. Some experts say that 70 percent of people ended up in their current position thanks to networking while others estimate far higher percentages with most positions getting filled without ever posting an external job listing. This fact makes it extremely important to build and cultivate a wide professional network to lean on post-graduation. If you are seeking international work experience it will be crucial to gain a global network. The first step to building a global network can be done from the comfort of your own home through a remote internship.
Many start-ups may have limited office space or none to reduce overhead spends as they get their company off the ground. This may limit their ability to take on in-person interns but open them up to support remote interns. By completing a remote internship with a start-up you will be able to support a wide range of projects from business, finance, and marketing to content development, media, creative support, and more. This will not only give you understanding of the entrepreneurship and start-up culture but allow you to explore various work tasks that you would like to explore more in the future.
Working remotely requires you to stay vigilant about understanding key communication platforms as well as company software systems in order to succeed and connect on a day to day basis. By navigating the various platforms that each company uses to work virtually you will gain not fluency in the different systems as well as the ability to troubleshoot and solve basic technical issues on your own. Both these skills will be crucial for your next role and allow you to adapt to new positions at a quicker pace than others.
Due to distance and a lack of physical presence to succeed at a remote internship requires discipline and initiative. Each day and week you will need to show initiative by reaching out and connecting with your supervisor and colleagues. Throughout the project lifecycle your initiative will show through as you keep to deadlines, suggest alternatives or improvements, and when completing a project, take the initiative to reach out for more work. As most employers have experienced the challenges of remote work at some point, your remote internship experience will stand out on a resume, and give you a great talking point in an interview.
As you may have encountered when writing a final course paper, it can be difficult to focus and turn off the distractions of your phone, tv, friends, and more when you aren’t at the library or workplace. These distractions are just as real when completing a remote internship, and each day you intern you will challenge your ability to stay focused. There are lots of great tips to Ace Remote Work and stay focused, and you will need to find the ones that work the best for you. If you ultimately succeed in staying focused it will give you great tools to apply to future remote work, and let shine in your remote internship.
Is there a downside to Remote Internships?
When navigating a remote internship some have cited challenges including not having enough work to complete or a lack of sense of community. Both of these are real threats to a remote internship which is why CRCC Asia created our Online International Internship program with measures to ensure that all positions offered have clear projects outlined that meet the hours assigned. We have also developed weekly touch points to build a community to include google hangouts, bi-weekly professional webinars and connecting with an assigned internship coach. Our Online International Internship program is designed to create a scaffolding around traditional remote internships that support a better program and professional outcomes.