Internship is a great opportunity for students to gain work experience and learn more about their chosen field of study. However, with so many students and graduates emerging from colleges across the world, how can companies accommodate all these students in order to give them a practical short-term experience before the students enter the real profession? Virtual internship presents a delightful solution to this problem.
A virtual internship consists of gaining work experience without physically being at the company headquarters. Virtual interns utilize technology such as web or teleconferencing, email, cloud software, and Google drive to complete tasks and assignments. This type of position is new to the marketplace, but with a growing demand for interns, it is quickly becoming a means for current college students or recent graduates to balance their busy lives and still gain practical knowledge.
Virtual Internships started becoming popular in the western world in early 21st Century, and now this has become an emerging trend in India as well. Companies directly recruit interns and also join hands with websites like Twenty19, Internshala, etc., which help them find interns who are interested in the field of work in which they require man power. The interns are trained in the work online itself, and their work is submitted through the virtual medium. Most of the companies pay a stipend to these interns, along with an experience certificate that could add value to the interns resume.
Vaibhav Kaley, CEO of Wondergrass states “Typically internships are sought by students to work in premier organizations. Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) like ours hardly have any takers for mainly two reasons. One, we cannot afford to pay a sizeable stipend and second, we do not have additional resources to train the students. However, on the other side, large organizations get too many applications from students across India, whom they have no time to neither train nor assign a job of any importance.”
Sujit Hemadri of Urbanbinge.com feels that another major attraction for interns to join SMEs is to add value on important projects, which they otherwise wouldn’t have got an opportunity. SMEs, he states, utilize the skills of talented interns who want to take pilot projects and deliver them in 2-3 months. Sujit Hemadri adds, “This way an internship benefits both the parties – companies get fresh hands with interest to work on new projects, while students get to showcase their project work on their CVs.”
One might doubt how trustworthy is the new web media, when it comes to gaining a practical experience from a student’s perspective or how accountable would the interns be from the perspective of a company hiring interns. However, virtual internships are a boon to the Gen N as their benefits outnumber their drawbacks.
Their major benefits include:
- Flexible Schedule: Being a virtual intern gives you the opportunity to manage a work schedule around the time slots that work best for you. This works perfectly for students who are looking for work experience, but have additional commitments i.e. student organizations, part-time jobs…homework.
- Location & Time Management: Most virtual internships require only an internet connection to work, so you can set up shop anywhere.
- Broaden Your Network: Since the freedom of a virtual internship can allow someone living in India to work for a company abroad. Participants have the opportunity to network with a whole new spectrum of professionals in their field.
- Practical Experience: All internships give students hands on experience outside of the classroom setting. Being a virtual intern is no exception. Interns can work on multiple projects and learn how to be part of a virtual team. The experience teaches students how to overcome challenges like working with limited communication and with time change elements.
- Ability to work under limited supervision: Not having constant supervision gives students the opportunity to learn how to be self-motivators and how to achieve deadlines without micromanagement. It also causes students to be more aware of the work they turn in because they need to meet deadlines and have to deal with the challenge of not being able to constantly be in touch with their superiors.
Divya Rocha, a final year student of Mass Communication in Hyderabad says “An online internship is perhaps the best for those who want professional hands on experience and at the same time need a more flexible timing and work culture.” She feels that as a creative person, ideas come best when one is in the most comfortable environment. Divya, who took up a virtual internship in Global Information Services, states with the world going viral through internet, her online internship has equipped her with the most crucial skills required in today’s corporate world.
From my very own experience of being a virtual intern, I would say that this new trend of virtual internships is like stepping stones to a good career for students today. Isn’t it cool to learn something new, gain experience for a better tomorrow in sweatpants and shabby hair at one’s own home?
Image sources – USDA Flickr