This is a guest post from Campus Ambassador Melinda Price from Miami University of Ohio.
Since internships are a valued experience for your future employer, it’s pretty much expected you’ll have some experience upon college graduation. However, holding an internship during your college career can be a challenge to work around.
Between classes, extra-curricular activities, office hours, a social life, and sometimes a paid job, when in the world will you have the time to commit to an internship? The answer for some people, including myself, is a virtual or online internship. This type of internship works around your schedule and you can do it on your own time.
For example, I am currently an editorial intern for Pretty Young Professional. The start-up website is aimed at young, professional women who are looking for career and life advice pertaining to subjects related to women. My job in particular for the company is creating content, editing, generating ideas for new topics, social marketing for the site, and I work closely with the founding team. But I do it all from my own college room.
The articles that I edit and write are generally due within a week, but I can do them whenever I find time in my schedule. For the most part, this means I do my internship assignments in morning when I’m not in class, in my breaks between classes, or after I get home from work at night.
A lot of online internship employers are also willing to have some kind of flexibility with deadlines. Since they are hiring college students, your boss will realize that you have a lot on your plate and can give allowances. Also, they don’t care when you work on it, as long as it is done in a timely manner.
Another advantage of an online internship is that all the resources you need are on your computer. Not only is this really convenient because most students today haul their laptops around anyway, but you can work from anywhere with an internet connection.
Since everything is on your computer, it is important to back up your files with a flash drive or other device. It might make for an angry employer if you lose necessary content.
One important thing to note when looking into an online internship is your phone and email etiquette. Since a lot of your contact with your boss, co-workers, and potential clients will be via email and phone, it is important to note that you are being professional in your conversations. Make your voicemail message one that you want employers to hear and your email content worth reading.
Many times, in a virtual internship is a special skill to know the social media language. Candidates for virtual internships (and all jobs) have an advantage when they are fluent in using new media. My advice is to create a Twitter or Facebook, if you don’t have one already, to test the waters so this area will not be your weakness.
Holding a virtual internship does have some requirements, but is a great option for someone who can’t find time to hold a full-time internship but want to gain some experience in their field. This will also signal to future employers that you are familiar with being professional in your communication and have knowledge of the online world.