This year has been stressful enough on students. Between taking classes on zoom, sitting in bed trying to get work done, staring at the walls of a dorm room, and thinking about internships just adds to that stress. I know numerous people who were prepared to have a full-time internship summer of 2020, then Covid hit. Entering school in the fall as a junior with no internship experience had everyone stressed, including me.
Once moving into school in August I decided to randomly apply to virtual internships and see what would happen. After many written applications and some phone interviews, I was luckily able to secure myself a semester-long fall internship with a marketing company as a social media marketing intern.
As excited as I was for this opportunity, I was nervous to see what my virtual internship truly meant and how I would be able to juggle my college classes and the work that would come with this new role. Before last year, virtual internships were truly an unknown concept and something that came with weary expectations and lots of nerves.
This internship required me to do four hours of work a day Monday through Friday, which was honestly not horrible to manage with school work. However, on the days where I had hours of school work made me rethink doing this all at the same time. The first couple weeks I found managing the time between the two quite difficult. Having a mix of remote classes, hybrid classes, and normal classes as well as the virtual internship really forced me to get good at time management.
Fast-forward a few weeks and I finally got into the swing of things. I found that a virtual internship brought both pros and cons:
I got to do my work anytime and anywhere
It did not matter if I wanted to do some work before my classes, some in between, or all four hours at once. I was able to choose any time of day I wanted to complete my assignments for that day and do it on my laptop from anywhere. This really helped on days when I knew my mornings were jam-packed, I could do my intern work in the afternoons, or vise versa.
I learned what it was like to communicate professionally virtually
Before the spring of 2020, I have never spent so much time on my laptop communicating with professors and classmates. When I began this internship I really learned what it was like to speak to my boss and other employees virtually. Throughout the internship, I had daily conversations with my boss and team through google hangouts, as well as zoom calls with my boss every so often. I really understood how to communicate ideas through a computer, as well as work with a team and communicate virtually.
I was able to learn how to use different programs/online platforms
Having a remote internship also gave me the opportunity to learn different programs and platforms. Not only did I get accustomed to communicating through google hangouts, but I also had training on how to use programs like Hootsuite. I was also able to learn how to use Wrike, the platform where I saw my assignments every day and where I kept track of my progress. In addition to these, I learned how to use Publer and schedule social media posts in advance through this program.
I didn’t like not being able to put names with faces
A major con of working remotely was not being able to put a face to the name I was talking with. While I learned a lot and am extremely grateful for the opportunity, I definitely prefer working with people in person. I often found that I wished I could even do a zoom call over having a conversation through google hangouts. Personally, I would rather talk out ideas with people rather than text or email about it.
It was a lot of time staring at a screen
While I knew this was a remote opportunity, doing this while also taking online classes I spent a lot of time staring at my computer screen. Some days I would be on my laptop from 10 am to 10 pm, which felt like forever. Days where I had a lot of work or assignments for both school and my internship had me sitting at a desk staring at a screen all day. (Pro tip: invest in a good pair of blue light glasses to avoid screen headaches!)
One simple question could take hours to get an answer
The last part of a virtual internship I found to be frustrating was the amount of time it could take for me to get a response to a question. I completely understand that my boss and other employees at the company were busy throughout the day and spending time doing their own work. However, sometimes I would have to stop doing an assignment until I got an answer to a simple yes or no question to confirm I was doing it right, which could take hours or sometimes a whole day. It was frustrating due to the fact that if it was in person it would have been a 2-minute conversation, rather than hours waiting for a response.
All this being said I don’t regret doing a virtual internship one bit and am so grateful for the opportunity to do so during a pandemic. I really learned a lot about the marketing industry, as well as what works best for me in terms of working style. I was also challenged to really adapt to the situation the world was in while completing my classes and my internship remotely. I think now that more students are accustomed to working on the computer summer remote internships will not feel like too much of an adjustment.
Overall, while it may have been challenging at times I gained so much more than I would have not doing a virtual internship. When applying for summer internships this year I encourage everyone to look at the remote options. So many companies are offering internships this way and this means you can apply to companies located anywhere! I have accepted an offer to do another remote internship this summer and could not be more excited!