Why Should I Do a Virtual Internship?
Article written and edited by Tusshara Nalakumar.
With the pandemic restricting in-person activities, virtual internship opportunities are on the rise! Here are some tips on finding and acing your own internships.
First things first — what is a virtual internship?
Internships can take many forms; they can range from a few weeks or a few months long, be paid or unpaid, and be full time or part time. Whatever the setup, internships are valuable opportunities to work for a short period at an organization and develop skills relevant to the industry in which it sits.
A virtual internship, while lacking the in-person elements of pre-pandemic times, actually allows you more flexibility. It is conducted entirely online, from the comfort of your own home, provided you have a good internet connection and don’t mind some time differences.
Why apply for virtual internships?
Virtual internships can offer you many of the same valuable learning experiences as in-person internships. If anything, they may be even more helpful in building collaborative, organizational, and communicative skills as you navigate the virtual workflow at an organization. Their short-term nature also means internships are the perfect opportunity to try your hand in a particular position or industry and then apply your learnings to later, longer-term work experiences.
“At a virtual internship, you will get exposure to your field of interest, but with greater mobility and freedom of choice, as you’re not restrained by your physical location.”
At a virtual internship you will get exposure to your field of interest, but with greater mobility and freedom of choice, as you’re not restrained by your physical location. This is especially useful when taking COVID-19 travel restrictions into account. This freedom can also teach you important lessons about how you work best, as virtual internships can offer greater flexibility in terms of the hours you work. Take this opportunity to experiment with and understand what makes the most productive environment for you. Do you feel most productive at a cafe, at home, or the park? Does your motivation and focus peak in the morning, or later in the day?
Aside from discovering your individual working style, internships are also a great way to figure out if you really want to work in a certain field. Let’s say, for example, that you love reading and writing. There are many different career paths you could follow that align with this interest. Embarking on an internship gives you a taste of how your passion and skills translate into an actual job, whether that be within more traditional print media, digital media or content marketing.
How do I get a virtual internship?
Take some time to build a strong resume — there are tons of guides and templates available online. The aim is to show the skills you bring to the table and why your previous experiences make you a strong candidate for an internship opportunity. You may not think you have a lot of experience, but it’s all about how you sell it. Involved in your community through volunteer initiatives? Contributed to a school club? School prefect? Write about it! Just make sure that whatever it is, you relate it to the skills needed for the internships you’re looking at. Pro tip: Look for specific verbs and adjectives in the internship listing and incorporate them into your resume! As for cover letters, they give you a chance to elaborate on why you’re interested — and qualified — for a specific internship.
“You may not think you have a lot of experience, but it’s all about how you sell it.”
With these materials ready, you’re prepared to apply for internship opportunities. LinkedIn jobs and other sites like Indeed.com are some general places you can start your search, but don’t restrict yourself to these. More targeted searches can work great as well. For example, if there’s a news website you’ve always loved, poke around on their jobs page and see if they have either an official internship program or contact details listed so you can reach out speculatively. Follow your favorite organizations via their social media too, as internship opportunities may well be advertised there. The more opportunities you explore and the more you send out your resume, the more likely it is that you’ll find the right opportunity for you.
How to make the most of your internship
Congratulations, you scored your first internship! Now it’s up to you to make the most out of it. Be open to taking on responsibilities outside your comfort zone or main areas of interest — you never know if something will suit you until you try it. Say you enter an organization as part of an editorial internship, you are probably not just going to be limited to writing-related tasks. Make sure you ask questions and volunteer to contribute to the marketing, business development, or any other department that you’re curious about. You’ll be surprised how transferable some skills can be. Even if you don't end up loving everything, you’ll build a much broader understanding of your skills and interests — and knowing what you don’t enjoy is equally important.
“Even if you don't end up loving everything, you’ll build a much broader understanding of your skills and interests.”
Another crucial piece of advice: talk to people. Not just to your direct supervisor, but any other employees and, of course, your fellow interns. Networking can sound intimidating, but it can be as simple as praising a colleague’s work, asking a question about their career and how they got there, or expressing curiosity about the work someone is doing. These are all ways to start forging connections. From there, you can keep in touch with peers who have the same professional goals and interests as you, and also find mentors in your field of interest who you can turn to for support.
Now that you know the basics, you’re ready to begin your internship search! Check out Millie’s Global Internship Program to begin with.