Internships can be great for building experience and making connections in your career, but as with anything there are downsides that should be considered. Generally, internships take up a lot of time but often don’t pay well if at all.
In the virtual age, especially since the pandemic, remote internships have become much more prominent. Similar to an in-person internship, there are upsides and downsides to a virtual one that potential interns should take into consideration. Being prepared and having your expectations adjusted accordingly will go a long way in helping you get through an internship or decide whether one is right for you.
The biggest upside to a remote internship is that you have much more control over your schedule. You can manage your day much more efficiently if you’re working from home, as opposed to factoring in travel time and even getting to the internship. Not having to travel also works out well for potential interns who may not have a vehicle, and ultimately opens them up to more opportunities because they don’t have to worry about getting from A to B.
When considering any internship, it’s also important to be aware of what fields require prior experience and what career paths might be more attainable without any experience. There are, in fact, quite a few options for people without experience that could be great career paths without having to go through an internship. But if you’re set on an internship, a remote one certainly offers more flexibility.
As is the case with most internships, it’s important to understand that you probably won’t be paid very well if at all. Internships exist as experience-building opportunities, so many employers use that as leverage to justify not paying their interns. This should always be an important factor to consider, but especially with a remote internship where you won’t get hands-on, person-to-person experience. If the internship doesn’t pay and you don’t feel like the remote aspect justifies your time commitment, it may not be right for you.
Another positive to a remote internship is that, like any internship, you’ll be able to build your resume up and position yourself for potentially a great job right out of the gate. Having the experience that says you can do the work will go a long way, and in the age of remote jobs it’s a plus to be able to show that you can work from home effectively. Many employers are understandably wary of employing people who haven’t worked in a remote environment before, and being able to demonstrate your abilities from your internship will help you get a leg up in your job search. And, as is the case with most internships, your professional network will naturally grow. That is never a bad thing.
Whether or not a remote internship is right for you is a decision you have to make for yourself based on what matters the most for your life and career. The time investment and work can be a lot for little or more often no pay, but the positives of having such valuable experience can very easily outweigh those negatives. If you’re concerned about a remote internship not being hands-on enough for your liking, it might not be for you. But if a remote internship seems like a worthy investment for you and your career path, it can often be a life-changing and prosperous experience.
— Article by Sean Kelly, an analyst researching the latest industry trends for College Recruiter