Thankfully, we live in the Internet age, where it is possible to have a virtual internship instead!
Here is some advice on figuring out if a virtual internship will work for you.
Check out the company
Do your own research. Run some searches on Google, talk to a career adviser at your school and ask the company some questions.
Some questions you need answered: Is this a reputable company? Will they deliver on payment when you complete your work? How easy is it to get in touch with the company?
These are questions that you want to have answered before you commit to doing the internship because since this is virtual, you may never actually meet your supervisor or visit the workplace, so it can be harder to hold them accountable.
Weigh the benefits
Virtual internships allow you to get your work done on your own schedule, meaning you can do work at 2 in the morning if you want to … and can do it from the comfort of your own home in your PJs. As long as you meet your deadlines, your supervisor doesn’t care when (or where) the tasks get completed.
Internships can be costly. If you’re moving to a new city for a summer internship, you’ll have to pay rent, maybe buy some furniture and move your possessions. All of this costs money and time! Even if you’re interning in your own city, you’ll have to pay for gas to get to and from the internship and invest in some work attire (if you don’t already have a good professional wardrobe). A virtual internship takes all of these costs away! As long as you have a working Internet connection and a computer, you’re good to go.
Consider the cons
While virtual internships are definitely convenient, there is something you learn about the workplace by being in an actual work environment. Even though it’s much easier (and more ideal) to do work from your bedroom, you will be able to form bonds with and network with other employees — something that is much harder to do with a virtual internship.
If you have a hard time finding yourself accountable for your work, a virtual internship is not for you. Other than emails or phone calls, you will not have your supervisor looking over your shoulder to make sure you’re getting your work done on time. You’ll have to rely on yourself to set your own deadlines and focus on getting the work done. When you’re at home, it’s easy to get distracted by Netflix or your roommates, so you’ll have to be extremely disciplined for this to work out well.
When it’s all said and done, virtual internships aren’t for everyone.
Some people crave face-to-face interaction, while others have trouble motivating themselves when they aren’t in an office environment. If you don’t think this will work out for you, be honest with yourself — don’t put yourself in a position that you are doomed to succeed in just because it looks good on paper.