Remote work is on the rise in every field and every country around the world. Major corporations all the way down to startup companies are offering location flexibility to their employers, as well as offering remote internships.
Of course, the Covid-19 pandemic changed a great deal about the way we work, and the expectations we have for professional settings. It also changed how we attend classes, travel, and socialize. But while school, vacations, and family reunions go back to normal, remote work is here to stay.
The world’s top experts and researchers agree that flexible working conditions aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, remote work is predicted to grow in prominence. Predictions estimate that nearly 25% of workers in the United States alone will be remote in the next few years. Globally, surveys show that more than half of workers say they work remotely at least part of the time.
So, what does this mean for students and young professionals looking for work experience? It means remote internships, also called virtual internships, are among the most valuable experiences available in today’s professional landscape. Not only do these placements offer increased flexibility and access to companies and experiences, but they present the chance to develop the skills necessary to succeed in a virtual work world.
Read on to find out all you need to know about remote internships.
What are remote internships?
Students and young professionals in every career field know how important prior experience is. Of course, that experience helps you stand out when applying for universities, programs, and scholarships, but it’s absolutely essential when it comes to finding a full-time job in your field. And what’s more, internships are the best way to open professional doors for yourself by making key connections and finding mentorship.
Now, remote internship programs offer that same experience and benefit in a virtual setting, allowing you to boost your resume from anywhere in the world.
Companies of all shapes and sizes, from consulting agency PWC to machinery giant Caterpillar, are offering remote internships. That just goes to show that no matter your field of interest – whether it’s finance or mechanical engineering – there are endless options for you to get that experience in a remote environment.
How do remote internships work?
Thanks to today’s technology, remote internships can be conducted pretty much seamlessly, even if you never set foot in an office. Many remote internships are conducted on a variety of platforms, including video and phone calls, as well as communications platforms like Slack. That being said, most companies have their own internal methods of tracking tasks and scheduling, and these are likely to vary from internship to internship.
But, no matter which platforms your organization uses, they all serve the key purpose of ensuring interns understand what’s expected of them and also know what the rest of their team is working on.
Of course, one of the main reasons to choose a remote internship is to fit in professional experience alongside classes or other responsibilities. For that reason, remote internships sometimes operate on a slightly different schedule than traditional in-office placements. Remote placements often have more flexible hours, and interns can work on their tasks after class, or in a different time zone from their manager. Most internship programs make sure that interns meet with their direct manager or teammates at least once a week so that everyone is on the same page.
One element of a virtual placement that looks different at every company is networking and socializing. At bigger organizations, interns might attend regular events with other interns, getting to know each other and even doing virtual games and challenges together. At a startup, interns are likely to attend regular remote “all hands” meetings, to get company updates and even share about their work.
When it comes to networking, obviously in-person events are out, but that often makes it even easier for interns to build one-on-one connections, through meetings and virtual coffee chats with company leaders where the focus is just on them.
Check out our remote internship FAQs to learn more about academic credit, eligibility, and other requirements.
Who can do a remote internship?
If you’ve never done a remote internship before, you might be wondering who exactly can apply for one. The short answer is: anyone can do a remote internship! Remember – internships aren’t just for university students on their summer holidays.
No matter where you are in your education or career, there are virtual opportunities that fit your profile, especially if you apply through a professional internship program like The Intern Group, which has an immense variety of partner organizations looking for every type of candidate.
An internship, especially a virtual one, is an excellent option for mid-career professionals looking to make a career change. The flexibility of these placements ensures you don’t need to quit your current job to start making your future plans happen. Virtual interns get to test out the field they’re considering pivoting to and can develop the skills they need to do so on their own terms and schedule.
And of course, if you’re wondering “how do I get an internship as a high schooler?” you now have your answer! Virtual internships work perfectly with most high school schedules and are a great chance to develop transferable skills. As a high school student, you might not know yet exactly which field you want to work in later. In fact, you’ll probably change your mind several times over the next few years! But don’t worry. Remote internships are perfect for students who have no professional experience and are just looking to test the waters of the work world.
Of course, depending on your career field of choice you might be wondering whether a remote internship is even a possibility. The answer is an easy one – virtual placements are available in every career field you can think of. Take a look at our Career Fields page to get an idea of the types of placements available in a virtual setting.
What are the benefits of a virtual internship?
The benefits of a hands-on professional placement can’t be denied. Interns have the chance to apply their academic backgrounds in a professional setting, honing their existing skills and rounding out their skill set for a particular field.
A virtual internship allows you to experience a particular company or field before making the commitment to devote your career to it. And of course, it’s the very best way to ensure you receive a competitive job offer. Not only do internships enhance your resume and show potential employers you’re capable, but they’re also a chance to make valuable connections who can vouch for you when you apply for full-time roles.
There’s no doubt that individuals who have internship experience will have an easier time landing a job than those without that hands-on time.
In fact, NACE data also shows that conversion rates from intern to full-time employee are also on the rise. That means that you’ve got an increasingly good chance of being hired after your internship is over.
Now, in addition to the undeniable career benefits, remote placements have the added benefit of flexibility. As a virtual intern, you can complete the internship from anywhere in the world. On vacation to a beachside paradise? No problem. As long as you’ve got an internet connection, you can still get that valuable professional experience.
Many remote interns today take advantage of that flexibility and pursue travel opportunities, language immersion, or even combine an internship with studying at home or abroad.
Let’s dig into one of the most exciting and important benefits of a remote placement: travel opportunities. If you’ve ever thought about becoming a digital nomad or have wanted to work abroad, a remote internship is a perfect way to launch that dream lifestyle.
Geographic independent placements mean you can intern for a German company from the comfort of your home in Canada. Or, you can intern for a company based in your home country, while exploring all that Mexico has to offer!
There’s no doubt that international experience is incredibly beneficial. The ability to collaborate with professionals from other cultures and countries is a critical one. And of course, the ability to speak multiple languages is the best way to set yourself apart from other applicants.
Remote interns who choose to travel during their placement can often be found working from coworking spaces or coffee shops in top cities around the world. Not only do they get to experience living like locals in places like Bangkok, New York, and Melbourne, they also join a truly vast community of millions of global nomads. In their coworking spaces or out in the city, remote interns meet professionals in every stage of their career, in every field, from all over the world.
There’s truly no better networking opportunity than meeting experts in your field who have made the entire globe their office and have mastered remote work life.
If you’d like to intern remotely from abroad but aren’t sure where to start, check out our digital nomad program. Through this competitive program, The Intern group places applicants in virtual internships and helps them settle into living abroad. Internship fields range from finance to fashion and everything in between, and interns may be placed with a diverse array of companies and organizations.
Interns who are accepted to the program receive visa assistance, career coaching, and accommodations in their destination. They even have a ride waiting for them at the airport! Our most popular digital nomad destinations are Bangkok, Thailand, and Medellin, Colombia.
Are remote internships good for my career?
Remote internships might be on the rise as far as prominence and popularity, but they’re still a fairly new concept for many people. There’s no doubt that the Covid-19 pandemic had an enormous impact on internships. The pandemic changed the way we think about professional experience and jobs as a whole, not just internships.
Today, a large number of companies globally are hiring remotely, and a majority of professionals across all fields report that geographic flexibility is extremely important to them. That data makes it clear that remote work is here to stay, and how better to prepare for a remote or flexible job than one or more remote internships?
Keep in mind that remote placements have all of the same career benefits as traditional placements. And we know that an internship is a fast pipeline to a full-time role at the same company or elsewhere in the industry. The even better news for prospective interns is that these professional placements involve serious and impactful hands-on work experience. The days of making copies and picking up coffee are in the past, and today’s interns spend the majority of their time on work that involves problem-solving and project management skills.
Let’s take a look at what the data shows:
Remote internships also have an added element that can put them above in-person experience for many employers. Independence and self-motivation are absolutely key for most of today’s jobs, and a remote internship shows both. As an intern, you have a variety of tasks and projects to complete, and you’ll be asked to show your work to others who may integrate it with a broader company project.
Companies still expect the same quality of work from their interns – that hasn’t changed. So for those working from home (or even from another country), the challenges can be greater. Hiring managers who see a remote placement with excellent references on your CV will know that you’re a problem solver with excellent time management skills, among other things.
Even if you plan to enter an industry where most full-time jobs will be in an office or a lab, remote internships are still a huge boost for your career prospects. Recruiters are looking for applicants who don’t need a manager looking over their shoulder in order to get things done. Those who have remote experience in their work history stand out from the crowd as self-sufficient and organized. And as an added bonus, remote experience is a great way to hone your communications skills and highlight them on job applications.
After all, the future of work is increasingly global, and that means that no matter what, it’s increasingly virtual. If you can communicate and collaborate smoothly with a team spread out across time zones or cities, you’ll make a smooth transition into tomorrow’s international workforce.
How to get remote internships
As you might expect given their exciting benefits and travel opportunities, remote internships are very competitive. And of course, there still aren’t quite as many remote placements available compared to in-office placements (though as we know, that’s changing!)
The extremely high demand for virtual internships means candidates need to stand out from the crowd and have a plan of action. There are several ways to enhance your professional profile before you apply for a virtual placement, to ensure the company knows you’re a good candidate.
Make sure your resume or CV is free of typos and highlights your most impressive and relevant experience. Don’t worry if you’ve never had a job or internship before. Think about relevant courses you’ve taken or projects you’ve completed. If you have volunteer experience or are on a team or part of a club, make sure you include it. Have you ever had a part-time job or a summer job? Those might not seem like professional experiences, but they all demonstrate relevant transferable skills, such as teamwork and communication. Of course, if you have any leadership experience, even as captain of a sports team, make sure to include that on your application as well.
In addition to your CV or resume, make sure that your LinkedIn profile is also updated. Today, most professionals (across industries!) use LinkedIn to look for jobs, share professional updates and successes, and to hire for new roles. Make sure you have an appropriate headshot, and that your experiences and profile are up to date.
Once your application materials are ready to go, it’s time to find an internship. Everyone knows that a referral is the very best way to land a job. Internships are a little different, but networking goes just as far! Meeting people in the field you’re interested in can go a long way. After all, references can help you land an internship just like they can help you land a job. Consider attending networking events or speaking panels at your school, or seeing what’s happening in your local community!
Applying through a program like The Intern Group is one of the best ways for competitive candidates to land a remote internship. While we receive thousands of applicants every year and of course can’t accept all of them, our program takes the stress out of finding a virtual placement and planning travel. We place top-tier candidates in roles with leading organizations in every field, and our interns go on to full-time employment within months of completing their placements.
How to succeed in a remote internship
Succeeding in a remote placement requires many of the same skills and commitments as completing a successful internship in an office. It’s still important to show up on time to meetings, hand projects in on time, and have attention to detail.
However, virtual internships obviously require a few extra things for success. First of all, you have to be your own scheduler for the most part. This means you need to get a bit more organized with your hours and how you manage your time. Consider using a calendar app, and scheduling out your work in advance, especially if you’re only interning part-time.
Regardless of how many hours you’ve committed to in your virtual placement, setting boundaries around when and where you work is crucial. This is a tip many remote workers have learned during the pandemic because employee burnout can happen quickly if you aren’t intentional about separating your work and your personal life. Consider setting strict hours in which you’ll get your work done for the day, or decide where you’ll work. Maybe you make the “commute” to a coworking space or a coffee shop to start your day!
Another way to succeed in a remote internship is to make sure you ask for feedback. Remember, the tasks you’ll be working on are just as important as those you’d be assigned in an office, but you won’t bump into your manager in the hallway. That means that opportunities for organic and unscheduled feedback aren’t as common in virtual placements. To make sure you’re getting the feedback you need to get better as a professional, ask your manager and other stakeholders you work with to give you feedback at regular intervals throughout your placement.
The last but perhaps most important tip for remote internship success is prioritizing your networking goals. Some companies will have pre-set meetings for you to engage with important professionals around the company. They might set up Q/A panels, or even organize one-on-one meetings. If you land an internship with The Intern Group, you’ll have career coaching, mentorship advice, and even resume review. But if those types of interactions aren’t set for you, it’s important to create them for yourself. Try scheduling virtual “coffee dates” with a few people you admire in the company, or whose career trajectories you’re interested in. These are a great way to get to know someone on a slightly more personal level. Don’t forget to add your colleagues on LinkedIn!
Interested in learning more about remote internships? Apply now for The Intern Group’s program!