Work from Anywhere: College Internships in our COVID-World

Contrary to popular belief, due to a proliferation of remote internships, undergraduate college students have the chance to gain experience with better outcomes now than they did before the pandemic. Listen up college students! If you attend college in Missouri, you no longer need to make travel arrangements or find housing to attend your summer internship in New York City. Just hop online and log in. Now is the best time to grab that work experience.

Internships have consistently increased the odds of a fresh graduate landing a coveted entry-level position. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) “When employers have equally qualified candidates, they choose the candidate with internship experience. In 2019, 56% of interns and 40% of co-op students became entry level hires.”

Virtual internships abound in almost every industry. LinkedIn listed 5,417 remote internships posted in the last month. Google lists their location as anywhere, Monster calls it work from home, while the job platform Handshake uses the language remote workers allowed. No matter what you call them, you can find internships that have no commute, yet provide real experience. Options are available for undergraduate students in digital marketing and public relations, as financial analysts, tax interns in public accounting firms, policy research positions, and of course, software development. Pre-med students may observe telehealth appointments but, as of now, no hospitals are offering remote internships. We are all lucky that it is too difficult to take a pulse or administer oxygen through Zoom. Students interested in medicine still have to suit up in PPE and arrive in person.

What about all of those casual interactions and connections students made when on the same floor as their co-workers? They could knock on a door to ask a quick question or catch them as they walked out of a meeting together to discuss a new idea. It is true that this aspect of remote internships is lacking. Students have to take the initiative to reach out and make personal connections with fellow interns, team members, and supervisors. However, companies have also noticed this missing aspect so some have created extra online sessions for interns and employees to “chill” together—a quasi-online happy hour (BYOB)

Despite the pandemic, remote internships from summer 2020 had an 80% conversion rate to full time employment, according to NACE. This was up from 68% in summer 2019. Companies reported that the quality of work completed by the interns was the same or better. As an added bonus, employers were able to attract candidates that were more diverse.

Virtual internships are providing never-before-seen opportunities for undergraduate college students. Those in rural areas of the US, and even students in large cities, are benefitting because they can target a company that is headquartered in another location. The work-from-anywhere internship has opened up possibilities literally across the country. You can live in California and intern in a New York-based firm, as long as you can swing the time difference and get to work at 6am. Do not be discouraged by the current employment situation. You are better off now than a year ago when remote internships were still a novelty. Pick your dream internship and apply today.

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