The internship is an effective way for the under-study and graduates to attain the skills and experience required to secure a suitable job. Internships are available in every nameable program compared to the last few decades where it lingered with the medical industry only. Last decade also made its name in the revolutionizing technology which provided virtual use in entertainment, education, business, and many other industries. A virtual internship is one such branch in the education industry which aids graduates to gain experience while working in a remote professional environment. Virtual internship debuted in the information technology sector way back in the 1990s. This internship entails working from home, connected to the work environment remotely and does not require physical presence at an office location. Such internships are now a legitimate way of obtaining experience, that can be listed on résumés. Candidates communicate through email, Skype, WhatsApp, webinars, and many more. Virtual internships are available in all major fields but are still rare. Experts base this growth in virtual internships on the expanding popularity of social media. Surveys show that most pupils are positive about such online experiences and programs.
The Growth Factor
One of the main reasons for the rise in virtual internships is due to the rapid explosion of entrepreneurs, startups, and minor ventures. These startups and minor companies have space constraints. This remote employee situation works well for them saving time, space, and money. As a startup is small and expanding, it gets difficult for the employees to monitor an intern. These internships are popularly aiming small business to mid-business to online business. Companies and candidates believe that content and social media/related jobs, does not require physical presence and the virtual presence will do the trick. This strategy makes sense for the global companies forcing laboring from the other side of the world.
The Intern Virtues and Shortcomings
As internships last for short brevity of time-few weeks to months- it is difficult for an applicant to relocate for such a short time. Some candidate does it because they want to intern with a specific company. The advantage lies in the flexibility and freedom, especially for the unpaid internships. Students wait until their winter and summer breaks are over and then they apply for the internship. Consequently, this virtual internship can save their lot of time and students can do their internship side by side. Furthermore, this provides them with a perfect opportunity of working a job doing both simultaneously. Students can work in their free time and according to their suitable schedule. A student can work around his school, work and social calendar. Cross-cultural competencies can also be learned by working virtually for an international company or organizations.
On the side of shortcomings, virtual internships can create a barrier of communication between the applicant and the employer. Communications skills, especially professional are major learning part of an internship. Additionally, it will be difficult for the intern to ask his/her employer any doubts or concern. Further, in the virtual internship program, the intern may not be able to form appropriate self-discipline and management skills. The intern has to invest in his/her own computer, internet, mobile phone, and many other tools in order to create a virtual environment which can increase the overall costs of the contender. An intern can make him/herself shine in others book by implementing hard work in professional opportunities; however, virtual one will definitely miss such opportunities. And most importantly, the virtual candidate will find difficulties in understanding the corporate culture.
The Employer Highs and Lows
Sometimes some employers do not have enough work to support a full-time intern and a virtual internship makes it easier for them to hire interns on the project basis. The employer will not have allocated office space and other resources for this virtual intern. Further, this internship allows an employer to select an aspirant from the whole world as the intern will be hired on a remote basis. Such internships aid in time management and all the tasks and questions are handled via email, phone, Skype etc.
The employer will not be able to convey the company’s corporate culture in a virtual environment. A virtual intern will be unable to help with hands-on project and tasks where physical presence is required. A state clear form of communication should be established between the candidate and employer. A virtual internship will fail if its management is not strong. Therefore, management should have a clear process, systems, understanding, and outcomes of the intern tasks.
The Win-Win Situation
As the current market job is extremely competitive, completing an internship – virtual or not – is more important. When prepared appropriately, it can be a solution for both the employer and intern. Flexible nature of virtual internships will aid more students in gaining internships. On the other hand, as companies continue to try to find new ways to reduce their costs, virtual internships provide a low cost, but high return, option for the employer. In conclusion, virtual internships are a win-win for both employers as long as the appropriate steps and actions are taken by both parties.