Why Not Consider a Virtual Internship?

Illustration by Monica Nguyen-Vo

Being a university widely known and respected for its co-op programs, RIT regularly has a large number of students out exploring the professional world. With students collectively taking up such a wide variety of positions, one might find it surprising that not more people consider a virtual job, co-op or internship. 

If you are a full-time student, managing a full course load and perhaps involvement in multiple extracurricular activities, you may have little to no time to be worrying about the logistics of an internship. For instance, if you are lucky enough to secure a job for the next semester, it can often be a position out of town requiring one to potentially face the challenges of moving to and acclimating to life in a new city.

Moving to a new city can be nerve-racking, as illustrated by the long list of questions Business Insider recommended you ask before accepting a job in a new city.

With so much to consider and possibly change within your life, the prospect may seem hard to swallow. Many job seekers have bypassed these distressing concerns by accepting a virtual position, like the many full-time members of the workforce who have telecommuted for decades.There are plenty of employees who work 100 percent virtually from home in jobs that rely heavily on technology, such as software developers, graphic designers, digital marketers, social media specialists, and customer service. Full-time students are able to take advantage of virtual co-ops and internships. For students, gaining valuable experience, making contacts and securing references are all benefits that can be obtained virtually.

RIT career counselor Janine Rowe believes there are unique advantages for students to consider about virtual co-ops and internships. “It gives students the opportunity to work in a field that may not be available to them due to geographic reasons,” said Rowe. “Virtual employment generally offers time flexibility to accommodate classes, volunteering and sleep schedules.”

Rowe also noted how employers may be more incentivized to hire student interns virtually, for reasons such as cost. “They do not need to provide office space and they can cast a wider net for applicants, especially if relocation to the company’s location is difficult or cost prohibitive.”

What Rowe did caution though, is that virtual employment requires students to be extremely self-motivated with excellent time management skills. Work tends to be project-based and timely results are critical. Qualities that contribute to success in the real world may be that much more crucial to achievement in the virtual one.

If you are an aspiring software engineer, web developer, graphic designer, digital marketer or writer, imagine yourself telecommuting from your own home or dorm room. Prominent online job boards like Indeed and Looksharp feature postings of a variety of virtual positions. Moving to a new city for a new job can be anxiety-ridden. A virtual co-op or internship can be an easier way to test the waters of the job market while still in the comfort of your home, with all your support systems in place.