In today’s world where New York and Tokyo, though more than 12 hours apart by plane ride, can be connected via fiber optic technology in less than a second, and almost no corner of the planet is remote enough to be untouched by wifi or some sort of cellular signal, it’s more common than ever to land a virtual internship. For example, you live in Kansas but you land a position in New York City. While that opportunity is awesome, considering most internships are unpaid, and living in the Big Apple is super expensive, your best option is to telecommute, which means you’ll be doing the same work, but you’ll be Skyping with your employer in lieu of meeting in person. You’ll probably be communicating via e-mail and text, and you’ll be able to do all that from the comfort of your own home (with your dog, and possibly a cup of tea next to you). Now, of course, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a need for in-person internships (they’re super important), but that doesn’t mean virtual internships should be discounted, either.
It’s great especially for high school or college students who may not have the flexibility during the semester to drop everything and go off somewhere to fulfill an internship. In my senior year of high school, I joined The Prospect’s very own writing program that helped me to cultivate awesome writing skills and get the hang of things — and there’s tons of other opportunities like that out there just waiting to be discovered. Seriously! So, how do you land one?
Get on the hunt.
You won’t be able to land anything if you don’t look! Ask around, maybe your school or your friends have heard of opportunities that could be great for you (and bonus if your friends have participated in such programs already — they can help you get your foot in the door). Make profiles on various job finding sites and bookmark the ones you think you’re qualified for. If there’s a company you have in mind, but you can’t find any listings, it definitely doesn’t hurt to shoot them a quick e-mail and see if they might have something for you. If they’re able to, they’ll be happy to start you on their application process.
Polish your resume.
Once you’ve got your eyes set on a certain virtual internship, it’s time to take action. They’ll probably ask for something along the lines of a personal statement and/or resume/CV. That means you’ll have to have that ready to go relatively soon. It’s good to have a resume outline that is generic for all applications, but remember to spruce things up and highlight the stuff that you think that particular employer would be interested in. Make it personal. Your personal statement should be especially personal and handcrafted with a specific company in mind. They may call you to interview over Skype or by phone, and make sure you’re properly prepared and dressed for the part (you may be able to do work later on in your PJ’s, but for your interview, try to look professional, it’ll help a lot).
Get ready to intern!
If you’ve been lucky enough to be hired, get yourself ready to do work. Yeah, you won’t be forced to get anyone’s coffee (luckily, ’cause you’re too far away to), but be sure to know you’ll be working for real.